I have an issue. I’m a 29 year old female. I started dating a man this last year after almost going 4 years without a relationship. I was abused (sexually, emotionally, and physically) by my first boyfriend at 19. I have and still am seeing a therapist.
There are other issues in this relationship. My family is from a different country even though I was born in America and still aren’t at accepting him. He has no strong familial or friendship connections and has a good job and won’t branch out to my friend’s husbands. He sticks like glue to me at a last event dampening my mood.
Lately he’s been getting frustrated. I’m not a morning person and need to stick by strict times for plans so I can wake up on time and not rush. I had finals the last weekend and was up studying. We made tentative plans to meet and I slept in and he got mad at me for ignoring calls and texts. I apologized multiple times for not informing him I was up studying and he tells me how disappointed he consistently is that I need to wake up much earlier.
It’s exhausting. I’m with him for the most part of the weekend and I feel I can’t have 10 minutes in the morning to take a dump or drink coffee. And these last few plans I make and he goes along with it. He knows how I need a set time (10 am, etc) and he’s all lazy about agreeing to a time. He then demands me to get up early and I’m squashing his hopes when I don’t.
I also work with my family and now need to go in next week to the office. He has a week off and I can sense an imploding argument because I need to hang out with him all day.
Now he’s demanding sex out of me, but December was a month I was assaulted and I’m sick of it. He’s been pushy for intimacy and I’m meeting him where I can. I told him I’m waking up with nightmares. I get he’s frustrated but I feel guilty and just want to get it over with so he gets off my back .
I also sometimes leave a cup of water in his sink (don’t live together) and got yelled at for not sticking it in the dishwasher (he claims it’s not yelling but was pissed). He said I was being disrespectful. Although if he leaves dirty dishes I usually wash them and do it so it’s one less thing for him or pick up his dirty clothes. I have tried to tell him that I usually leave dishes in a sink and do it at night but it’s a big deal apparently. Sometimes I’ll do it and don’t get snapped at but I feel confused and hurt when it does happen
I have a bad habit of pulling on sleeve or back of his shirts if his hand is away. We went out recently and he was walking faster so I pulled on his sleeve. And he claims he didn’t yell but his voice was raised and people were staring. He loudly said for me to stop messing up his shirts and he won’t ask again and he said I’m going to ruin all his clothes. I turned inward because I hate being yelled at. I tried to say it was an accident and he said no you always do this and why can’t you just say that you want to hold my hand. He claims I’ll ruin the hem and the sleeves fabrics on a sweatshirt or a t-shirt. I felt like I got slapped in the face.
I know I ruined his watch band because I was absent mindlessly playing with it on his hand. The rubber broke. He said he wasn’t angry but he always tells me how annoying it is or tells me how I ruined it. I even offered to pay for a whole new watch that was like that one he likes but no, it’s complain-ville.
I feel like I can’t do some behaviors. I always knock stuff over at home to annoy my mom (minor stuff like a dryer sheet or pen) and I usually pick it up. He blows up at this. I did it a few times (like a business card) and forgot to pick it up. Granted his place was a mess.
And he said I was again being disrespectful and making his place more dirty. I started crying. I had folded his clothes and picked up other stuff but I feel awful.
Now he doesn’t get why I don’t feel safe. I also got a breakdown at one point when I had to put a cup in his sink and didn’t know what to do with it.
I even put it on the table and he got mad at me for not using a coaster. I never raise a fit when he eats in my car and makes a mess. I just cleaned it. He’s left recycling in my car and I’m the one who cleans it. I feel like making a stink about it but I never saw an issue and just toss it out
I just don’t know if he’s angry at me or just frustrated because on top of my family and my trauma he is being pent up.
Any feedback would be helpful.
Who’s The Victim Here?
This is a rough one, WTVH, because I don’t think you’re being abused. I think you’re being treated badly. I think you’ve got a right to feel hurt and frustrated and trapped by everything that’s going on. But I don’t think it’s abuse.
I think the problem here is two-fold. The first is that you and your boyfriend are profoundly incompatible with one another on pretty much every level. So much so that I’m not entirely sure how the hell you two got together in the first place.
The second is that HOLY HOPPING SHEEP SHIT your boyfriend is an asshole.
The issue with the former is that you two have profoundly different personalities and habits. In fact, you two are so diametrically opposed that it’s almost as though you two picked the worst possible match for one another. Not every couple is going to move like a well-oiled machine or be perfectly in synch with each other. Every relationship requires compromise and adjusting to one another, making allowances for the differences in routine or personality or habit; you have to be able to talk about those conflicts and anticipate areas where you two might bounce off one another. If you don’t, you have the relationship equivalent of two gears that refuse to mesh. Sometimes this just causes a hiccup in the machine, an inconvenient jolt that you can (usually) work around. Other times, all you’re doing is grinding gears until something snaps — messily and all over the place.
Guess which has happened here.
You two are incredibly mismatched, to an almost absurd degree. Despite what decades of pop culture (and Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat) told us: opposites don’t attract. This is why. To start with, you have incredibly different needs simply for your morning schedules; you need a fairly rigid and detailed plan to maximize the time it takes for you to wake up in the morning, he prefers flying by the seat of his pants. He needs far more time together, you need more time apart and get exhausted being his primary source of socialization. His way of doing dishes conflicts with the way you do them… these are all ways that you constantly end up sandpapering each other’s nerves.
And honestly: I can see why some of your little habits and quirks annoy the living piss out of him. Knocking stuff over specifically to annoy someone? I mean, I get annoyed when my cat does that. Grabbing his sleeve or his shirt may look cute in anime, but in real life, that’s gonna seem weird coming from someone whose age is above single digits.
All that by itself is enough to make me say that this was a relationship that you probably should never have gotten into in the first place.
But like I said: holy fuckballs is this guy an asshole. As much as the two of you seem to have the relationship equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, his reaction to it all and his behavior is so over the top that he comes off like the shitty boyfriend in a Hallmark movie that the main character is supposed to dump once she’s moved to a small town and learned the real meaning of Christmas. The passive-aggressive reminders about how you broke his watch, yelling about ruining his hems, leaving messes in your car while complaining about not using coasters at his house… I mean, dude’s a living cliche. Even if it’s just his frustration bubbling over… he’s still being an asshole.
Regardless, the real answer here is that you should hop into a DeLorean, hit 88 miles per hour and stop yourself from ever dating him in the first place. It doesn’t sound like you’re in a great place to be dating at all at the moment and certainly not this guy. You two need to break up with the quickness and acknowledge a fundamental truth: your relationship was over long ago and it’s well beyond time that you made it official.
Romantically, there’s a pattern in my life that’s honestly been really messing with my self esteem. When I get crushes, I tend to crush on people I’m already good friends with (I’m demisexual and biromantic soooo…). And 9 times out of 10, soon after I realize I have feelings for this person, they end up starting a relationship with someone else. And by “someone else,” I mean “a mutual friend of ours.”
I’m self aware enough to recognize that I’m the constant factor in the pattern, and for all the times this happened in high school and college (I’m in my late 20s now), in hindsight I can chalk it up to “well, it’s not like you ever asked them out!” (I’m a cis woman, for reference, and it took me a long time to ignore gender norms and work up the nerve to ask someone out first.) Which doesn’t doesn’t smooth out the negative feelings, exactly, but it helps.
So my most recent crush, I try to actually make a real effort and explicitly ask them on a date. I get shot down, ok, I do my best to move on. A week later, a mutual friend asks them out and the two start dating. I…did not cope well with this news. A lot of crying was involved, and as soon as I thought I was over it I’d plunge into a bad mood again. Mentally, I can’t help comparing myself to my friend, like “oh of course, Friend is just prettier and cooler and has less baggage than me, of course.” I see these friends often and it’s kind of hard for me not to be sad and jealous. I’m trying to keep my distance for a little bit but even then my mind keeps dwelling on it and comparing it to past incidents. (And I went through similar mopey phases whenever this happened in the past, too)
In addition, I’ve also recently been on a few first dates with acquaintances where I only found out after the fact that I was a rebound date after a breakup. Usually the acquaintance ghosted me afterwards and obviously the relationship faded. These dates make me feel like “oh, ok, I guess I’m the second choice after relationship 1 fails, and even then I fail as the rebound.”
I’m sure part of your advice on this one “seek some therapy,” and yes, I promise I’m working on it. But I was hoping you might have some advice for getting out of this way of thinking. How do I stop comparing myself to friends in happy romantic relationships and feeling like I “lost” some non-existent contest?
-Runner-up at Best
The advice I have for you is the same advice I give guys all the time, RUAB: you need to stop looking at this as a contest between you and every other woman out there. You’re not in “competition” because guys — like women — don’t tally up people’s points on a spreadsheet and go with the person who gets the highest score. We date the people who we like best, who we’re most compatible with and who we have chemistry with, who reach our standards and who have chemistry with us. Even folks who date for clout, wanting to ONLY date the hottest of the hot or what-have you, are looking for people who are right for them.
(That doesn’t stop ’em from being egotistical pricks, mind you.)
The guys you’ve asked out who’ve ended up dating other people? They weren’t right for you and you weren’t right for them. That’s not a judgement on you, your worth as a person or your desirability as a partner; it’s just a pair of gears that don’t mesh, a square peg and a round hole. People aren’t unattracted at you; it’s not something they’re doing in order to hurt you or to judge you. It’s just that you two don’t work. It’s like how my not wanting to date a Southern Baptist doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with her; she and I simply would not be compatible.
It’s like Dita Von Teese famously said: you can be the biggest, sweetest, juiciest peach in the world, but some folks just don’t like peaches.
The biggest issue you’re having is that you’re in a negative place and your jerkbrain is whispering reasons that are designed to make you feel bad because that’s what jerkbrains do. The crush who started dating a mutual friend shortly after you asked them out? Odds are that this was brewing before you ever worked up the courage to ask them on a date. It wasn’t a case of “whoop, this person asked me out how dare they, now let me date this other person as a palate cleanser”, it was just a quirk of timing. The rebound dates? Those weren’t on you; that was on them. They were trying to date before they were ready and it didn’t work. If it had been a different time and a different place, it may well have worked out.
And timing is an important factor when it comes to compatibility. Compatibility tends to be a case of right person, right place, right time; if all three factors aren’t in alignment, then it’s not going to work. If you aren’t in the right place in life, hell if you haven’t had the right experiences yet, you may simply not be the person that you would need to be in order to date that specific person. By that same token, you might be the right person at the right time… but they are in the wrong place or time. Which sucks, and it’s frustrating… but it’s not anyone’s fault.
You can’t control for other people’s tastes, their needs or what they’re looking for. You can only control for yourself and make yourself into the best, most authentic version of yourself and look for the people who want what you have to offer. As I’ve said before: dating isn’t poker, it’s blackjack. You play your hand as best as you can and maximize your advantages as best you can, but there’s still the chance you’ll lose anyway. That’s just life.
You’re not failing because you don’t compare to other people. You’re not failing because you’re not “good enough”.
You’re not failing, period. These have just been folks you haven’t been right for and who haven’t been right for you. It’s not your fault, it’s not their fault, it just is. There’s nobody to blame except for the chaotic vagaries of the human experience. And since you can’t do anything about that, the only thing you can do is adjust your clothes, dust off your shoulders, grit your teeth and charge back into the fray when you’re ready.