Should I go on a trip with my relatively new partner?
July 29, 2016 7:01 PM   Subscribe

I've been dating a person for three months. We booked a short trip but since the booking I learned things about how he processes conflict that concern me. We've had a good conversation since then. I'm not worried for my safety, but is this trip still a good idea?

My partner of three months has a lot of traits I appreciate and enjoy. He also has traits that I consider red flags for a long-term relationship; and we have a potential conflict of life-plans (one of us will need to move to a new city in coming years). Some of these are things that we have started to talk about and it feels like we have just reached the point where we're comfortable enough with each other to have really deep, introspective discussions. I love this! And I love resolving conflict in a healthy way! And yet I am not sure that, given these flags, this is a good relationship to move ahead with. Complicating fact: we have a 5-day trip coming up and I am not sure whether I want him to come.

The thing that made me frustrated was a couple instances, in quick succession, where I felt like he didn't respect my boundaries. I called him on it and my perception was that he sulked. He didn't apologize. I said I was frustrated and busy and would contact him in a couple days; when I did, he apologized (but then talked mostly about his process and his feelings about hurting me). After this I felt like I didn't really want to go on the trip together.

A day later we met up. He reached for my hand and was ready for a reconciliation and a talk about "us." I said I didn't feel like holding his hand and was looking forward to simply spending time together and not having a long conversation, since that helps me feel more connected and re-build trust. He respected that request by sort of shutting down, not talking much, and (as he said later) using a defense mechanism to retaliate to the distance he felt I had established, by establishing more distance himself. A few times he's talked about mental health patterns that I find concerning because I believe they will have an impact on me as his partner. He had a therapist and medication but didn't like to be vulnerable and didn't like how the medication felt. He considers his responses to things to be "habits" and not big problems.

All of this just feels icky to me. It made me not want to go on the trip together.

However, after that, we had a conversation where he explained why he was acting this way, admitted that his behavior was petty, etc., and we both apologized for things we had done that pushed the others' boundaries. He said he doesn't anticipate the things that have come up will continue to be a problem. He also said if I don't feel 100% in with the idea of him coming on the trip (it is a trip to see my friends at their wedding), then he would suggest he not come and he will absorb the ticket cost. He would rather we take the time to "do things right."

He has been gentle and communicative and we had fun in our latest conversation. I now feel like going on the trip together could be fun--I am not positive I would be annoyed the whole time and it's possible it would be sweet. (And, man, I hear how I'm framing that--but I still want to hear peoples' input on this.) We'll have lots of time for deep conversation and we can get clarity. I thought it would be a good way to see how he interacts with other people, particularly at the wedding. I also would like to travel with someone. I am not sure whether this relationship has long-term potential but I have been working at being more open to things, and not closing them down before I need to (which has been my tendency); so I don't always know whether I'm being "too" open or "too" closed; and it's new territory for me. I think the trip could be fun without him, though I'll be lonely at the wedding. I am trying to remind myself that we can always take a trip another time, too.

This is the first time I've dated someone long enough to have a conflict; and that means I've never been in a "post-conflict" space in a relationship and I don't know what it's like. That is one reason I'm not sure how to parse the annoyance I felt initially along with the cozy and happy reconciliation feelings I have now.

If I go alone I'll end up paying a few hundred more dollars for accommodations, etc.

I asked my therapist but at the time we had not reconciled or discussed things, and neither of us thought of the "Boyfriend doesn't go on the trip AND we don't break up" option (it was his idea). She asked whether we could go as friends (and I brought this up to boyfriend but he didn't like that idea). She thought the fact he didn't apologize right away was a big red flag. She suggested I don't need to "keep giving relationships a chance." I'm not sure what she would have to say about the (to me) constructive conversation we had after I met with her.

So I've managed to turn this logistics question into a relationship question, but these questions do still stand, and I'll add one too:

1) What about this trip? Yea or nay?
2) What about this relationship for me?
3) I believe he would benefit from investing in therapy; at minimum I can see, based on my therapy experiences, how the things he's describing would have a less negative impact on me if he handled them more. But how do I ask this of him? Can it be a "do this or we're done" or is it a "we're done, please do this and then we'll reconsider"?
posted by ramenopres to Human Relations (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
In my recent dating experience, that flashbulb icky feeling of 'Nope, do not want' is never wrong. I mean, I CAN second-guess myself, rationalize it away, double-down and work harder to accommodate the other person. If I want to make myself miserable over time, that is.

Def go alone on the trip; probably break up but don't feel rushed into it; his therapy is not your problem.
posted by oceanmorning at 7:30 PM on July 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Don't take him. Go and have fun with with your friend. Revisiting the issues when you get back is an option, but problems with not respecting boundaries, retaliating and being closed off are huge red flags. It's not too late to cut bait.
posted by Zeratul at 7:35 PM on July 29, 2016


You're new to relationships, you've known this guy for three months and you're calling him your "partner" and planning five-day trips together to meet your friends? Slow. Down.
posted by praemunire at 7:39 PM on July 29, 2016 [58 favorites]


If you want to send your partner to therapy after three months because they're hurting you, DUMP HIM.

You are in the honeymoon phase but you're mad at him. If he wants to do this work, he can do it without you. It's good to have some near misses before you find a solid relationship. This dude is going to get worse with time, and he's already not ok. Go and find another fish.
posted by Kalmya at 8:11 PM on July 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


When people tell you about themselves, believe them.

By this I mean, these initial encounters where he showed you his true reactions, his true self, the ones that gave you the red flags - believe that those are his real reactions, and that your feelings about those reactions are real.

Now it sounds like he's just covering and saying what you want to hear because he doesn't want to lose being in a relationship.

Go on the trip with him or don't, but speaking from experience, if you're seeing red flags now, don't waste time trying to make this into a long-term relationship. Enjoy it as a summer fling and then move on to someone who is ready to act like a grown up the first time around, not after you've talked about the same damned fight three times already.
posted by vignettist at 8:15 PM on July 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


"After this I felt like I didn't really want to go on the trip together"

Full stop. Don't.

You have nothing to lose if you don't take this trip. Can you say the same if you do?
posted by _Mona_ at 8:27 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


No, you shouldn't go on the trip together.

This guy isn't your partner. He's a person you are dating. Even if things were going swimmingly, I'd be hesitant to take someone you're that "new" with on a five day trip, including to a wedding. Especially someone you seem rather... ambivalent and judge-y about.

Also, I think that making "go to therapy" a condition of your very young, very new, not very good relationship is a very bad idea.
posted by sm1tten at 8:29 PM on July 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Just to give info for any additional answers: I don't know why I called him "partner" and "boyfriend" in this post. I really don't know! I never refer to him that way to others or even myself. In my mind we are solidly in the stage of dating--exclusive, but exploratory. The friend getting married is the only person I'll know at the wedding, so I thought of it as less of a big relationship step than meeting my local friends would be. I know I said "friends" in the post--also not sure quite why, but I think it's because I've been imagining that I'll make friends there. And I just like to think of everyone as my friend (?).
posted by ramenopres at 8:41 PM on July 29, 2016


It doesn't sound to me like you should break up from the mix of positive and negatives you've mentioned here, though that's certainly an option. I also don't know if I can weigh in on the trip other than to say that traveling with people tends to give you a more intense (though not altogether real) window into whatever is there and might be there. Are you ready for that magnification?

Kudos to you for recognizing the limits of your experience and perspective and asking here. And exciting that you've reached new territory with post-conflict. It's hard to say whether anybody else can give you the advice that's best for you in terms of squaring the past frustration with the positive reconciliation, but I feel like focusing on these things:

The thing that made me frustrated was a couple instances, in quick succession, where I felt like he didn't respect my boundaries.

So... "didn't respect my boundaries" could mean things that are unqualified problems (say, consent issues, stalking) to things that are in the murky space that requires negotiation (say, whether or not someone can/should come over unannounced, or wants to continue a conversation one evening after you're tired and want to go to sleep). You have every right to break up over things from either category or for no reason at all, but it's worth bringing up that a certain degree of boundary negotiation is a part of even healthy relationships, and it's hard to weigh in on what might be unhealthy without specifics.

I called him on it and my perception was that he sulked. He didn't apologize. I said I was frustrated and busy and would contact him in a couple days; when I did, he apologized (but then talked mostly about his process and his feelings about hurting me).

The fact that you felt frustrated is an indication that something needs attention; and ideally you're with a partner who is sensitive to your feelings in moments where you express frustration. But as it turns out, even in healthy relationships, that process isn't always instantaneous and may at times be preceded by your partner working through how *they* feel first before everybody comes to a resolution. If there's an unbalanced pattern over time, that's a problem.

He considers his responses to things to be "habits" and not big problems.

A good number of big problems I've encountered have grown out of some problematic habits -- mine and others. Habits are worth paying attention to, yours and his, and also how people confront the shortcomings in their habits.
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:06 PM on July 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


The boundary stuff was relatively small. He wouldn't stop tickling me (over a half hour). He was joking about doing something and I said "No" and he thought it was still a joke and kept pushing until I said "I'm not joking, STOP." So it wasn't huge things but they happened over a couple days (and two within the span of an evening) so I was really annoyed. And then I brought up, and he became withdrawn and said he'd need time to process it, and I was like "And... no apology?"
posted by ramenopres at 9:10 PM on July 29, 2016


It's ok to want company at the wedding without it being Big Relationship Milestone. You seem to be hanging a lot importance on the idea of The First Overnight Trip and The Testing of the Partner at a Wedding. Maybe it's ok to just want some company at a wedding you want to attend and at which you won't know anyone. Maybe having him go with you to the wedding doesn't need to mean anything other than that you want company at the wedding, you generally enjoy his company, and he's willing to go to the wedding with you.

If you think his presence will detract from your enjoyment of the wedding, then maybe don't have him come. But you seem to be using this trip as a test, in a lot of ways, and it's ok to go on this trip, with him or without him, without it being a test.
posted by lazuli at 9:10 PM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I said I was frustrated and busy and would contact him in a couple days [...]

A day later we met up. He reached for my hand and was ready for a reconciliation and a talk about "us." I said I didn't feel like holding his hand and was looking forward to simply spending time together and not having a long conversation


is this one of those conjugation jokes where I maintain appropriate boundaries, you use defense mechanisms, and he sulks and shuts down? because you definitely don't have to touch him or talk to him about serious stuff when you don't want to, but neither does he. You don't write as though you think he has the same right to withhold conversation and contact that you claim for yourself.

then again, previewing the recent comments, I would dtmfa for the tickle thing if it were me, that's actually awful and I might not trust a person after that even if they did apologize without being prompted.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:20 PM on July 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


That he refuses to stop tickling you for more than 30 minutes is a clear sign. This is domestic violence. This is how it starts. It starts small. He is seeing what he can get away with. You are already seeing a cycle of good times and bad times. Please consider stopping this now, today.
posted by kerf at 9:37 PM on July 29, 2016 [28 favorites]


The level of psychoanalysis (rebuilding trust, defence mechanisms ) you've used on this guy is what I'd expect for a ten year relationship, not a three month long one. If you're already thinking he needs therapy, or you both do, to cope with the red flags he's throwing up, why would you even bother to stay with him? As others have said, he's not your partner, he's some guy you barely know.

The whole point of dating in the initial stages is to see if you gel together and this one clearly has major issues for you. The constant assessing of him and testing how well he interacts with your friends is just way too much for such a young relationship. It should be fun and easy at this point - for both of you. Let this one go, it sounds exhausting.
posted by Jubey at 10:05 PM on July 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry. I meant tickling over the course of a half hour. He alternated between tickling, and touching me in a way that tickled, and when I asked him to not use his fingertips in a tickly way but rather his palm or something he joked about it, and then didn't really switch. I feel like I am not doing well at explaining things. And I don't know whether that makes a difference.

I just now told him I'd like to go on the trip by myself and he was very clearly frustrated. I was surprised since he seemed so open to me picking the decision that was best for me ("only if you're 100%...") and I expected him to support me in changing the logistics and having a great trip. I would still value hearing feedback on the original questions.

I hope this isn't too much threadsitting. I'll try to stop.
posted by ramenopres at 10:07 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


You asked him to not touch you in a certain way and then he did it anyway. That's enough. The details don't matter. Dump him now, go to the wedding alone, meet someone cute and say hi.
posted by kerf at 10:21 PM on July 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


If it were me, however, if I decided I didn't want him to go, I'd cover the cost of his ticket, given it was not his friends' wedding.
posted by lazuli at 10:23 PM on July 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


It took me over 3 years to get okay at handling conflicts with my partner. I'm an avoider. They're a talker. And like many people, we are quick to get mad about feeling bad. So given your 3-month relationship, I think being bad at arguing, bad at apologizing/making up and bad at knowing when the other person is serious/seriously annoyed is not a red flag at all. (I also think your therapist may be too zealous in pointing out "flags.")

As for his frustration with your decision to go solo, I think that's not unreasonable. Obviously it's your decision, but in my opinion, "supporting" your decision means that he agrees that it's your decision. It doesn't mean he isn't allowed to feel bummed out about the canceled trip and frustrated that you have been indecisive about it.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:26 PM on July 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


If this is a healthy relationship, five days apart is going to be fine. You'll text and call, say you miss each other and come back and agree, yeah it would have been more fun together and you both feel like you can handle conflict better and have figured out better boundaries.

If it's not healthy, you'll get five days having a good time with a sense of relief, gain some clarity and distance and know that you need to break up. He'll probably be sulky and either punish you by ignoring you or hound you constantly, but you'll see an escalation when you're at a distance and (if he is awful) he can't directly control you.

Go alone. The upside either way is good.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:48 PM on July 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


In a healthy relationship, you likely would not be that upset by his frustration. First, you would know that neither one of you blamed you, or felt like his feelings were your responsibility. Second, you would know that he was completely able to manage his own frustration in a reasonable way. Third, you would know that his frustration would be minimal and that he would not be suffering much from it, because this is not actually that frustrating (in other words, you would know his reaction would be proportionately mild.)

He is very slow to apologize, and very quick to go from the apology to making things your problem again. Do you notice that?

I have had significant others make serious, but reasonable, mistakes about what my boundaries were. That was upsetting and hurtful, and we had to rebuild trust and work on our communication. That is hard, but it never killed a relationship.

That is in contrast to what has happened here (which has also happened to me!). It feels very different when a partner knows about a boundary, understands it, and chooses to disregard it repeatedly. It is a really gross and unpleasant feeling. I have not had a relationship end up healthy after that happened. It reflected a deep lack of concern for me as an independent person. There was always this kind of reaction to it, too: if I got upset and, reasonably, became distant or expressed to them that I was upset, they acted angry because they felt entitled to cross my stated boundaries, without experiencing anything negative as a result.

Then, if I resisted their initial negative reaction and persisted in wanting them to take my feelings seriously, eventually they would tell me what they thought I wanted to hear and apologize, usually with some kind of "I still don't really know what I did" or "I will work on being more sensitive to your (irrational) desires, because I am a hero."

But if I did not respond quickly enough to them telling me what I wanted to hear, they got angry again, because they saw apologizing as an imposition. After all, they had just invaded my boundaries, repeatedly, after I had asked them to stop---but they are entitled to do that! How dare I demand any kind of apology for wanting to be in control of my own body! And then, on top of that, I wanted to continue to have boundaries around my own need for space and time to recover! How frustrating!

I am not saying that you should break up with this person. But you should strongly consider taking a big step back and thinking about what his behavior says to you, in a setting where you do not feel pressured to manage his feelings.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:08 PM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


As for his frustration with your decision to go solo, I think that's not unreasonable. Obviously it's your decision, but in my opinion, "supporting" your decision means that he agrees that it's your decision. It doesn't mean he isn't allowed to feel bummed out about the canceled trip and frustrated that you have been indecisive about it.

Why does he even need to "agree that it's [her] decision?" Of course it's her decision. "Supporting" something means making it easier to accomplish that thing, which, in this case, means putting a lid on your reasonable frustration and making the logistics easier.

If "agreeing" that people get to decide who to spend their time with, and who they physically touch (because he is not okay with going as friends, remember) is now "supporting" them, then I am supporting everyone on Mefi. And, in fact, I am supporting everyone in the whole world, besides my 7-year-old.

What basically healthy human being would disagree about whether or not someone should be forced to go on a trip with them? (The alternative to it being "her decision" would be that it is not her decision, meaning that he would have some power to make her go on a trip with him (not as friends, remember), which...that is just not a thing for healthy people going on recreational trips with their dating partner of three months.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:20 PM on July 29, 2016


Blerk, no, don't take him on this important trip, and furthermore, you should dump him. He sounds like a bad, no good, attention hogging, boundary pushing crybaby, who could easily turn into a weirdo who hits you and isolates you from your friends. You sound so anxious and conciliatory about this guy who you've known for three months! You're supposed to be having a lot of really awesome new guy sex, bringing each other croissants in bed and emailing funny comics to each other, not wringing your hands about therapy and his sulking. And he thinks it's funny or something to kind of push your boundaries about your body sovereignty. Is this the same guy who loves to hear himself talk?
posted by glitter at 1:40 AM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think this guy is necessarily a proto-abuser. It sounds like you're both a bit inexperienced with relationships and are dealing with that in polar opposite ways: you're going in to analysis and problem solving mode, and he's withdrawing into his immediate emotions (hence sulking, displays of frustrations). It sounds like you are well equipped to detect and deal with conflict, but the thing is, there shouldn't be THIS much conflict to have to deal with at this stage, you know? I wonder if you're SO with it and prepared for red flags and boundary pushing etc. that you kind of expect them to happen? You don't have to, at this stage with someone new, make these things in to "conflicts" that need to be "worked out"- you can just decide, eh, I've given this guy a try and I don't like things about him/this relationship, so I'm going to move on. He's not necessarily bad and abusive. You just don't respect his emotional reactions or like the way he treats you. Not a good basis upon which to be with someone long term.

Going on the trip without him sounds like a decision that was important for you to make for yourself, to feel independent and not beholden to his feelings. That you feel the need to assert those things for yourself at this stage indicates that you're not feeling free and happy and safe with this guy- so don't be with him. Fighting tooth and nail to change him in order for you to feel free and happy and safe will not work. Ever.

(My experience of emotionally intense, boundary-pushing relationships that gave me squicky feelings early on has been that it pretty quickly becomes untenable for me, and breaking up sooner rather than later is a smart move. He's entitled to his feelings, but he's likely to react to a breakup in a way that you find uncomfortable and boundary-pushing [exhibiting a lot of the "but whyyyyys" and asking to talk things over after you've broken up], and if you do it more promptly it will give him less ammo and let you move on more cleanly.)
posted by mymbleth at 2:16 AM on July 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


If you go on this trip by yourself, there's a 100% chance you'll have fun. If you go with a new-ish guy with whom you've already had some rocky times, there's probably a 25% chance it will be fun, a 25% chance it will be meh (like, a decent time but it would've been less stressful and more enjoyable on your own), and a 50% chance it will be a horrible train wreck and you'll resent him for spoiling your friend's wedding for you.

Don't take him. Vacations with lovers that go badly are their own special level of hell.
posted by emd3737 at 3:30 AM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trust your gut.
posted by spindrifter at 4:14 AM on July 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm skipping right to the end:

I believe he would benefit from investing in therapy; at minimum I can see, based on my therapy experiences, how the things he's describing would have a less negative impact on me if he handled them more. But how do I ask this of him? Can it be a "do this or we're done" or is it a "we're done, please do this and then we'll reconsider"?

THREE MONTHS IN?! It's neither. You can't ask him to go to therapy. You can't make therapy a condition of your continued relationship. At three months you cut bait, especially when:

You've already noted a fair amount of red flags;
You've asked your therapist and us for advice because it's not going that well;
You already know you have serious reservations about continuing to date this guy; and
You and he have spent WAY TOO MUCH time discussing processes.

Christ on a stick. NO, you do not want to go to a wedding with him. You already know that. You also don't want to keep dating him, but I think you already know that as well.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:47 AM on July 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


In all fairness, because you are the one who doesn't want him to come now, you really should pay him back for any money he put out for tickets/hotels/etc. If he won't take money, get him a giftcard or something nice. That's kind of shitty to be invited somewhere, put out money for it, and then get un-invited without any offer of compensation.
posted by NoraCharles at 5:47 AM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I offered to pay back when it was a hypothetical, and he said, no, he would absorb it; the cost was a risk we took in booking the trip. He encouraged me not to think about the financial side. I thought this was super gracious and it helped me feel supported in thinking things through.

I might not have uninvited him if it had involved the extra cost of the ticket. I took him at his word on that. Should I push to reimburse him anyway? Maybe a nice dinner out? I want to do the honorable thing here but the ticket cost would be hard for me to pay too (on top of now not splitting lodging). Tbh I kind of want to reinvite him.
posted by ramenopres at 6:00 AM on July 30, 2016


Is it possible you're hyper-fixating on reimbursement as an excuse to sort of extend this relationship, which I think you recognize isn't going anywhere?

Forget the reimbursement, forget a nice dinner out, forget this guy.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:52 AM on July 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


He wouldn't stop tickling me (over a half hour). He was joking about doing something and I said "No" and he thought it was still a joke and kept pushing until I said "I'm not joking, STOP." So it wasn't huge things

Noooooo! Runnnnnn. Please run. These are huge things. This turns into violence, whether emotional or physical. It's a huge red flag.

He considers his responses to things to be "habits" and not big problems.

He has not reconciled with you. He's not actually sorry. He's going to do this again. Especially since you allowed it (i.e., continued dating him).
posted by AFABulous at 8:25 AM on July 30, 2016


The tickling thing is...fucked up.

You keep saying maybe you're not explaining things right, etc. Does that happen a lot with him? Where you communicate something, it's not received, so you wind up doubting your feelings and your ideas and your ability to express them? Like, I told him no, but I must not have said it clearly or strongly enough? If so, this is not a good sign and in my experience it only gets worse.

Enjoy your trip. Get your head out of the relationship for a bit and get in touch with who you are and what you want, away from his confusing input for a few days. Don't text him constantly when you're away. Don't let him hijack your fun with big emotional phone calls. Things will be clearer if you make room for your own voice for a little bit.
posted by kapers at 8:48 AM on July 30, 2016


I might not have uninvited him if it had involved the extra cost of the ticket. I took him at his word on that. Should I push to reimburse him anyway? Maybe a nice dinner out? I want to do the honorable thing here but the ticket cost would be hard for me to pay too (on top of now not splitting lodging). Tbh I kind of want to reinvite him

I feel like I see in every description you've given of your interactions a pattern where you are extremely fixated on how he expresses his feelings about things you do or say without having much consideration for his feelings when you act. I think you should break up with him, because you don't like him very much. I think you'll have better luck in the next relationship if you do some thinking about whether the pattern above is because you don't like him or if it's something you need to work on in general.
posted by animalrainbow at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


The boundary stuff was relatively small.

It was not. It's absolutely big, it's a honkin big. It's a Big Red Flag.

Boundary respect is not measured in the seriousness of the behavior. Boundary respect is measured in the compliance rate and the length of time it takes to compliance. Even if the event itself doesn't have huge consequences, behavior during the event is generalizable out to events with huge consequences.

And, as everyone familiar with abusive relationships will tell you, they start with these "small" events to see how much ground they can get on your boundaries. And escalate from there.

No wedding. No dinner. Bye, bye guy.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


> I just now told him I'd like to go on the trip by myself and he was very clearly frustrated.

This is a bad sign. Don't take him, and think very seriously (as far as possible setting aside the starry-eyed "But he's wonderful in so many ways!" stuff) about where you think this relationship is going. I appreciate he's making an effort, but lots of people "make an effort" and most of them don't go far enough. Let him work out his problems with another partner.
posted by languagehat at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2016


This is the first time I've dated someone long enough to have a conflict; and that means I've never been in a "post-conflict" space in a relationship and I don't know what it's like.

This sticks out to me. 3 months is the longest relationship you have had, so you don't have much to compare it to. In the grand scheme of things, 3 months is a super short time. If things are this rocky this early, it's not worth continuing. You and he are both processing and analyzing every move you make to the point where it's not going to be enjoyable to be together. Trust your gut. Don't stay with him just because you don't have experience with conflict/resolution in relationships and you aren't sure if you're dealing with it well. If you want a relationship, find someone you actually enjoy being with and you'll find it's not so difficult.
posted by crunchy_cereals at 11:28 AM on July 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


In a previous question you mentioned he was ~10 years older, which can also be a factor in the boundary-pushing. He doesn't see you as an equal if he doesn't respect a "no." (Also, you saw red flags on your very first date! He is not going to substantively change his ways at his age.) You deserve better.
posted by AFABulous at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is a different man than the previous question, he's my age, and he's been growing in maturity and says he wants to keep going with that (but, as you all say, that growing doesn't have to happen with me).

We learned about another item that can't be canceled. I brought up reimbursement, he said that'd be nice, I asked "For this or all of it?" and he said, "Hate to go back on my word but I do need the money including the ticket if you can reimburse all of it to me." So the premise of the question is changed. (For me.) Live and learn. I feel blindsided by this change but maybe it's another sign of why we are not the best for one another.
posted by ramenopres at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oof! Thanks for the update, but, even from a logistical standpoint alone, having to reimburse him for everything sucks. Clearly, it was an offer he made thinking there was no way you were going to go without him. Also, if you hadn't decided to go alone & he went, he wouldn't have the money. So, honestly, while I get that he won't have the experience of the trip, it sounds more like he's being petty than actually needs all of the money back. Live and learn indeed!

By the way, is there a friend you could possibly take, regardless of whether s/he chips in or not? That way, at least the cost you absorb will feel even more worth it beyond realizing this guy is not for you (though some would say that lesson is invaluably important).
posted by katemcd at 5:35 PM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


> "Hate to go back on my word but I do need the money including the ticket if you can reimburse all of it to me."

Yup, this guy's a jerk. As you wisely say: Live and learn.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


1) Nay; no trip at this time.
2) Relationship potential? Go much, much slower.
3) You can't ask a new relationship to try therapy. OK you can but you really, really should not.
2 revised after seeing 3) Doesn't look good at this time. Suggest spending time working on your own relationship skills, in therapy.
posted by soakimbo at 3:38 PM on July 31, 2016


Reimburse him in full, and cut contact. You walk away with no lingering indebtedness or attachments.
Sometimes, you throw money at a problem to wipe the slate clean and walk away. I would pay him out and get rid of him.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 3:58 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


So he offered to pull out of the trip and wear the cost and now you've taken him up on his offer, he's pulled out and said you have to pay it? Asshole. Normally I'd roll my eyes, throw the money at him and be done with it but in this case I'd be tempted to tell him that yet again, he's not respecting the boundaries you both put in place. The boundary was that he would give you space on the trip if you needed it, and he would back out and eat the cost. Some people literally have to pay a price to learn a lesson. Maybe he's one of those guys. Keep the money, tell him where to jump.
posted by Jubey at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Update:

I went on the trip alone, felt lonely, felt happy, and had fun. I think it would have been okay to go together (who can say?) but going alone worked out. When I got back I took a few days and then met up with this guy with the intent to end things. We had a good conversation. At the end he reached over and scritched my leg (the same tickling motion he had done before), because he "wanted to connect physically." He didn't have permission. And we had just talked about that exact thing. That gave me the extra boost to make "end things" happen then and there; no more conversation. We communicate and do conflict in such different ways; our lives are taking different paths; and if not for that, ignoring physical boundaries is not okay. Thanks for helping me see and assert that.

Apparently he had been encouraged by a friend to ask for full reimbursement, and did so despite the fact it went against his values; when I brought it up at the very end he declined to accept anything.
posted by ramenopres at 5:42 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


All of that is good news, including the fact that he declined to accept anything—not only is that better for you, it makes him seem less of a complete jerk. Well done, and thanks for updating us!
posted by languagehat at 9:33 AM on August 18, 2016


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