How to overcome social stratification , and as a consecuence a brokenheart ?
August 16, 2008 3:58 AM   Subscribe

Social stratification is braking my heart . Can any of you out there, help me translate this situation and maybe give me some guidance as to how to go forward?

I am a woman 35 y/o. I met Mr Perfect after 8 months of my marriage brake down. At the beginning he was eager to become my boyfriend even though there’s a big difference in our social stratus. I am a professional foreign still settling down in the Country. He’s is at the top of an important Oil company. He loves glamour, elegance, travelling, he’s always interested in current affairs, he and his friends are diplomats, some from the media ,his life is about work, luxury and Intellect.

When Mr. Perfect realized my intellect and background wasn’t up to his standards, was quite late as I’d moved already in into his flat as a tenant (paying rent). As his work is based abroad, he just come to the City a few days every month . We began to have sex after he asked me to be his girlfriend. And we didn’t stop when he asked me to be just friends.

(I have to point out that I suffered from domestic violence on my previous relation ship, and I was left in this foreign country overnight, with no friends, no money, nor family. I was recovering and having treatment from depression, and anxiety. However I never stopped working and kept studying English in order to register my technician degree in this Country and be able to help my parents and give them a better life.)

Having Mr. P coming every month at home and having some of his attention for a few days, made me feel I had a home again. I felt supported and cared again , I felt that the new string –free relationship was good for me, so I could have time to heal my heart, have a place where I didn't have to share with people and give time to my mind and self to cure.

I began to behave like the perfect 50’s women/wife, (although I am naturally like this) taking care of every single detail of his clothes, food, skin etc...

Mr perfect was never too amorous after sex. He cooked for me, always called me to ask how I was, and would gave advice when I needed, he support me to bring my parents for a Holliday , he sent them a nice food purchase, gave me a couple of perfumes as a gift , and he said many times he cared for me a lot.

I began to feel frustrated and hurt when I noticed that the main reasons for which he contained himself to loved me was because social matters, my background, my English pronunciation, my clothe appearance, my instable born Country, my intellect.

So I began to do big efforts in order to improve myself in ALL aspects in which I considered I could be up to his “standards” or criterions of his “perfect woman”. He said once to me that I was wonderful and I had many of the qualities he was looking for in a woman to marry, but he needed to have someone who could fit easily into his world. ..Obviously I could not understand this and it broke my heart.

I spent all time and money, I earned for the last year and a half improving my language skills, changing my accent, mastering etiquette, buying books, going to lectures, mastering elegance , buying stylish clothe, but Mr Perfect didn’t notice or when he did, did not put too much attention to it. I felt he still see me as the foreign little girl who he has to subside. He doesn’t even notice the intellectual changes I’ve made as I could not even mention I did all of this for me/ him...

Mr perfect supported me financially for a short period of time when I lost my Job. I was free of rent for 3 months; he also lent me some money to pay an important driving course which can help me to get a better Job in my arear in a future.

Mr Perfect began to say hurtful things to me ,like he is expecting to meet someone nice to get marry and have children with, and started to be mean, grumpy, and irritable lately . However in bed always nice and caring.

Last month when he came, after having slept together, he said that this country was too expensive and he was thinking to rent the whole flat and take a place up for him somewhere else.

I was shocked and devastated with his decision. And when he sow it, he said that I shouldn’t worry as he’ll give me a few months to work things out , and as I don’t have money for my deposit he’s willing to let me free rent for 2 , 3 months so I could save money from my new Job for the time I need to move out.

First, I asked him to let me stay and share the flat. I was overwhelmed thinking I had to move out and have a miserable life again in a small room, and with nobody in this Country to count with, also what about all those efforts I did, for nothing now?

But he changed his mind a few times about it and the last thing he said by phone when I asked it was that he feels trapped in every corner , that he is subsidising his mother, his little daughter , and me.. And he evaded the conversation when I asked him to tell me which were his recent plans.

It caused me so much pain, also that I decided to move out asap and take an option of work accommodation. The change is going to be drastic; I’ll be living in a very shitty room and struggling to make my ends meet for long time.

The questions to my mixed emotions and problems are:

1- Mr Perfect is coming next week for 4 days. He does not expect me to move out so soon as he knows I did not have money even for a new deposit, and otters matters which I had benefit, just for living at his place. (I did everything I could to find solutions). The questions is that I don’t know who to express politely in English that I rather will be moving out in the next week, without showing all this mixed feelings of rancour, anger, rejection, alienated, love ,hate ,gratefulness.

2- How to react if he tries to approach me sexually?

3- What to say when he asks where I am going to moving in? and how to answer any other question about my” new life”? I don’t want him to feel sorry for me, and guilty , but also I don’t want to let him feel, I will have a great time, after his mean decision and behaviour. What’s best to do?

I understand him in someway, as I can force any one to love me, I think he iswas confused in a time and could not let he go completely in this relationship. But still why he did not give me an opportunity? When he saw I was improving myself ?

He always said he is my friend, and I feel terribly sad of loosing him as such, because I don’t feel like talking to him after I leave , I feel this situation has damaged again my self stem and I feel so hurt and disappointed.

5 - I don’t know how to behave when he comes leaving him a taste of dignity of me, also I don’t want him to think I am angry, or I am ungrateful.

6-Also I feel so bad because I am thinking to disappear from his life once I’ve moved out… , but if he calls eventually which would be the best way to deal with it showing some gratefulness?
7- How can I cope with the fact I will be living in awful conditions, and start everything as when my husband left me 2 years ago?

8--And The biggest concern , is that I feel that the fact that I still don’t speak perfectly English, and I am not very intellectual, even though my efforts , I will always be rejected and alienated and unable to aspire to be with a cultured gentleman in this British Society as I am used to now. This is really making me feel powerless and with great feelings of frustation and confusion about love and society.

Thank you so much for your advice
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just want to say that the fact that this guy apparently feels that you are not 'good enough' for him is his problem, and not yours. It says much more about him than it does about you. There are plenty of men who will accept you for yourself, as you are, without judging you for ridiculous things like having a different native language to theirs.

Also, it was presumably his own decision to give you financial support, and give gifts to your parents and so on. If he now feels "trapped" and like he is supporting far too many people, that's his problem and the consequence of his own decisions. It's fine for him to say that he doesn't want to help you financially any more, but he can't blame you for the fact that he choose to do so earlier.

I know first-hand how frustrating it can be to not be able to express yourself perfectly in a second language (I'm a native English speaker but live in a country where a different language is spoken). But I want to say that your written English is really good - yes, you can still improve, but your meaning is perfectly clear here and I'm really impressed with your spelling, most of it is just great!

My personal opinion is that you should treat this like any other breakup. It is really painful, and I know the feeling of being alone when in a foreign country (though I am fortunate that my native land is very prosperous). But all the other stuff ... you ARE good enough for any man. If he's too blind to see that, it's his loss and you can move on to find someone else who DOES deserve you. Don't ever let any man fool you into thinking that there's something wrong with you. Hell, haven't you mastered a foreign language and built a life for yourself in a strange country, against some pretty rough odds? Aren't you loving, caring, intelligent, hardworking (you say as much in your post - "kept studying English in order to register my technician degree in this Country" "[to] be able to help my parents and give them a better life"). You also sound pretty damned determined. My advice is to keep reminding yourself of this, find yourself some friends to remind you of this (and to take your mind off things) and move on to find someone who really deserves you. I know it sounds easier than it is, but just keep in mind that YOU DESERVE BETTER!
posted by different at 4:22 AM on August 16, 2008 [6 favorites]

"the fact that he choose to do so earlier."

Ahem, I meant chose.
posted by different at 4:24 AM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: Social stratification isn't the issue here. This guy isn't Mr. Perfect, and he's not your friend. He's a guy who was willing to have sex with you, but never had any intention of having a real relationship (and such guys can be found at any social strata.)

Listen to different's advice, above. Make the cleanest break with him you can; get him out of your life; move on. And know that this was never about you not being good enough. This is about you having had the bad luck to encounter someone who made you feel not good enough, at a point where you were vulnerable to being made to feel that way.

You sound great and you'll find someone who can recognize that.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:26 AM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: You are perfect. Everyone is perfect, you were made exactly the way you should be. Don't let anyone treat you poorly. If he is not what you want in a partner, find someone else who will treat you the way you should be treated. Don't spend years in a relationship that is wrong for you.
posted by Ponderance at 5:28 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fully agree with what different says. This man chose to support you - you have already shown appreciation enough. On a practical point I would suggest you move your possessions into your new place asap so you can leave immediately after telling him you're leaving.

I may be wrong here but your post sounds as if you haven't really developed a social network of your own in your new country as yet - you only talk about the struggle to fit into his network and your final comment about how you would never be accepted and appreciated makes me think you're pretty isolated at the moment.

If that is the case then developing a social network needs to be a priority for you. I know that is not easy - I am not a native speaker of English and live in a country I did not grow up in but it is vital to living happily wherever you are. Developing a network of people who will support you will help with all the other issues - they'll comfort you when you're upset, you'll spend time with them outside your shitty room and they will boost your self esteem in every way!
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:35 AM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: Zulonline, I wish we knew where you are from originally? Is it a country where women are treated differently than in Britain?

If Mr. Perfect travels a lot, he knows the culture you are from. I think he has taken advantage of you -- maybe not to be mean, maybe because he was lonely and attracted to you, but still he has taken advantage. But, you are a stronger woman than he knows! You are a survivor.

These are my suggestions:
1. When he comes for his visit next week: "I love the times we have shared. I have grown new interests and skills -- at first, because it was important to you, and now because it is important to me. I am sorry our relationship is over. I have found a new place to live, and will move next week."

2. If he approaches you for sex: "No. I am sorry our relationship is over. I do not have sex with men who do not want a relationship with me."

3. - 4. When he asks where you are moving: "Please do not worry about me. I have learned so much in the past two years. I will be fine. I may not have a place as nice as this one, but I hope to find a place in which I am surrounded by friends and love. You want that, and so do I."

5. - 6. (see #1 and #3)

7. You are a strong woman. You have had bad times before. Work very hard at improving your situation. You need friends in Britain, interests and hobbies that are yours, not Mr. Perfect's. Hold your head high. Hard work, friends and interests, being able to survive bad times -- these are more valuable than anything Mr. Perfect offers you.

8. How to find men in a different social status: This is difficult. I think it is better to identify what you liked best about Mr. Perfect. To me, it seems he offered money, and some companionship. But, do you want more? Do you want deep friendship and commitment? Do you want real love? Do you want a man who appreciates and admires your strengths? You can find that in many social statuses. My suggestion is to find out more about women's rights and feminism in Britain and the West. Maybe it is different than where you are from? Learn about it, and enjoy the freedom of being self-reliant without requiring a man to give you social status.
posted by Houstonian at 6:18 AM on August 16, 2008 [9 favorites]

Best answer: i live in a different culture from "my own". i don't think you can change social position. it seems to me that you do not choose your own social "role" - it is decided by the people around you.

so, in my case, because i am white european, i must be rich. in your case, i am not sure. maybe you are an exotic stranger, which is "sexy", but not "long term". i doubt you can change that for this man, no matter what you do.

perhaps you can find someone who sees you differently, but i think that will be an exception. most people will see you through the steroptype that is "appropriate" in that culture.

i also wondered about saying what Houstonian said - feminism, independence, blah blah blah - but i know that whatever good things there may be in a new society, what you need most is what you know from "back home".

perhaps, you can find a compromise - learn something in britain that can help you return to where you came from with more possibilities? perhaps something based on knowing english?

sorry i don't have more advice for your current romantic situation - what we have in common is living in a strange land...
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 6:31 AM on August 16, 2008

Zulonline, I wish we knew where you are from originally? Is it a country where women are treated differently than in Britain?

Houstonian, OP is from Colombia, according to a previous AskMe answer.
posted by essexjan at 6:50 AM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: I know it must be difficult to think of the difficult things you are going to have to face in the really near future. The most important thing you can do to help yourself is to accept that as a human being you have emotional and mental resources to deal with these issues when they come up. This involves a bit of trust in yourself. But you've already got a good plan in place which shows you will be fine.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:46 AM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: I think that often we build relationships up into these huge, complicated, and unwieldy apparatuses which we then proceed to beat ourselves over the head with.

I think we tend to do this when in fact relationships really aren't that complicated at all.

Relationships are at their base about commitments and expectations. If you're not on the same page with another person about these two characteristics then you're going to encounter problems. That doesn't mean that things can't work out, that people's commitment levels can't grow or change or that their expectations can't be realized, but the timing is not always right.

If you enjoy this man's company, and if you can balance that enjoyment with the realization that his level of commitment is not compatible with your level of expectations, then by all means, continue to exchange fuck faces.

I don't think you're capable of doing that though. That's not a bad thing. Most people aren't able to maintain such "no-strings attached" types of relationships.

The danger is that you become possessive or paranoid and in doing so you both push this man away and you make yourself miserable. It's better to willfully extract yourself now through your own volition than to let the whole thing fall apart in messy pieces later after you've pulled all your hair out trying to force him to love you.

See him again if you want. Enjoy yourself. And then when he starts to leave tell him, "I think this has to be the last time we do this. I'm not getting any younger, and I need commitment." If he is a gentleman he will respect your choice and won't try to manipulate you back into some sort of arrangement. If he does try to manipulate you, well then you know that he wouldn't have been the right guy anyway.

And please, stop referring to him as Mr. Perfect. Be a grown up.
posted by wfrgms at 10:32 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have more thoughts about your last question (you aspire to be with cultured men of a different social strata). In my world, this was sometimes called "marrying up". You don't hear this phrase much anymore, at least here. This is when a woman wants to marry into a higher social position. So, why do we not hear this phrase used much anymore?

Because it does not work in our culture anymore. There was a time when this was the best a woman could do. She would offer: a well-kept home, taking care of all the needs of the family, always putting the man first and following his advice, always act virtuously so to not bring shame to the family. In return, the man offered: making sure the family was taken care of financially, offering leadership within the family, and responsibility for all decisions. To marry a well-placed man reflected well on the woman, and was her only way to improve her situation. She did it for herself, her family, and her children.

It seems to me that you held up your end of this way of life, but he did not. He loved that you put his needs first, but he was not willing to be responsible for your needs.

Feminism was/is more than just a right to vote, or a right to earn approximately what men earn. It was a shift in roles. Men changed as well as women. I understand that feminism has moved through Colombia, but I suggest that you find yourself in an area that has gone further in it.

I think it is very hard to "marry up" because men don't want this. So, how do you find good men? Giving up the idea of marrying to improve social status is one way. Most men would rather have a truly equal partner... and those men are in every social strata. The men who do not want this, usually also do not want to live up to their responsibilities in the older model. By letting go of this idea, you may find what you want... you may find real happiness with a wonderful man.

You listed some of your emotions (rancour, anger, rejection, alienated, love ,hate ,gratefulness). I wish you would add one more: Indignation. I very much suspect that your Mr. Perfect knew about the flip side of machismo -- that is, his responsibilities. He is disregarding them, hoping that you will look for his interests while he does not look for yours. It does not work this way.

Indignation will help you carry your head high. You did all the right things, but with a different mindset than his. He has made you feel inadequate -- and that is not right. Be indignant that he tried to take advantage of this situation.
posted by Houstonian at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2008

zuluonline, please check your Mefi mail.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:45 PM on August 16, 2008

( Amended -spelling )

I do appreciate inmensely your advice and suggestions so far about my situation. Your suggestions and care are already making me feel better and stronger.

All of you have opened my eyes ,and are making me see things with a different perspective.

What (Koahiatamald) said is true, I am pretty isolated at the moment , also it is great to identify the English word I was looking for, long time ago to describe my feelings "Indignation" also I have felt inadequate , as Houstonian rightly describes.

I am from Colombia from the capital, and I consider I have been someone rather independent , study dedicated ,and hard worker all my life, but here my circumstances changed as I had to master this new language first, to be able to register my Profession. So that lead me to have to accept help forthe first time in my life. (I used to be always the supporter) My husband could not bear to have little money in front of him to spend, when he had to support me here as I did not spoke any English at the beggining . (I supported him for years, back in Central America where I met him. (He is French).

I don’t actually want to met a men who could give me a higher social status , I have my profession ( Medical field related ) which has always helped me to be close to the things I consider important in life, such as care for people needs, politeness, well education, etc. But as Im not registered , I have had to work as an assistant for the last 2 years (I am working on it..)

But the situation I got involved with Mr Perfect" style of life, confused me, and made me push myself even harder to improve myself, and along the process of learning I discovered that getting intellectual, trying to express myself beautifully, working harder on my language skills, and acquiring large knowledge about different topics, could make me feel more able to fit in the class status I had in front of my ayes. Which I thought it was the best to be in living in England..

I felt also, so frustrated on many occasions ,when Mr P friends used to get together, and talk about politics, current affairs, etc and I could not thing about anything interesting to say. Even not be able to express my self in their stylish way of talking... so I began to work every second of my days trying to get those skills. However, I am still quite far...

I don’t want to go back to my Country, I want to do my life here, get registered help my parents as much as I can, and then do big things from here to help poor people in developing countries like mine. But my last experiences have left me with so little energy, a heartless, and confused like now, thanks to ALL of you for your support indeed..

I think I have to point out as well that when I said, I feel I won’t be able to aspire to be with a cultured gentleman, what I mean is that Mr P experience has changed me, and now I feel I want sometime in the future, to be accepted and loved for a cultured and intellectual man like him. Or I do rather give up and get away from cultured/intellectuall people as I might have the same experience again? But I what about what I've learned? and how nice that made me feel ? It is a great frustration for me (These were my thoughts before reading all your suggestions).

(Also, thank you for pointing out about Mr. Perfect name. You are right. I just put this name ironically.)
I wish I could get out of the flat before he comes on the next 2 days, but I infortunatelly can not. I am taking houstonian advice about what to say, Thank you.Just im still thinking how to behave not to show ungratefulness those 4 days he will stay at the flat.. Taking into accout the "good things" he did once for me when I needed.. (obiously sleeping with him is not in my plans any more) I also feel so sad about desapearing from his life even as his friend ..but is what I feel is the best to do..?

* Any other suggestions are very welcomed.
posted by zulo at 5:38 PM on August 16, 2008

I hope things work out well for you and you are happy!
posted by Ponderance at 1:41 PM on August 19, 2008

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