We’ve got a bit of a longer letter today, so we’re doing things a little differently. Since this is one of those issues that took place over time, we’re gonna start at the beginning…
Dear Dr. Nerdlove,
This story has several twists, so bear with me.
I met this girl in my junior year of high school. She was a sophmore at a neighboring high school, and we had a lot of chemistry; hell, our shared love for Metallica was enough for me, but she was also very cute and witty to boot.
With you so far. There’s always something about the punks and metalheads, isn’t there?
We hung out several times, never fooling around or anything. Then we kind of had a small falling out. She was one of those kind of girls with a checkered past, rought with ex boyfriends, alcohol and substance abuse and drama. When she met me, she was still in the process of shedding that skin. BUT to make things more complicated, she was moving away. So rather than further what could have been a relationship, we decided to sever ties by the end of that school year.
Which is probably a good thing, to be honest. My general philosophy on high-school dating is not to take it too seriously. Very few relationships survive past the freshman year of college, especially if there’s any significant geographical distance between them.
Summer went by without incident. I had a good time, hung out with a few different girls and had all but forgotten about the girl who liked Metallica. Then in August, she contacted me out of the blue saying she was visiting relatives in the area and that we should hang out. I wasn’t sure why
or even what we would do
but I agreed. We ended up spending that day making out in my room.
She went back to her new home two hours away and we began the process of texting and calling each other, basically building the foundation of a long distance relationship. We would text all day, talk on the phone every night if we were both free, and visited each other once or twice a month.
Again, not a choice I would recommend. I’m not a fan of long-distance relationships, but I went through my own when I was that age, so I know how you feel. And honestly, so far you’re doing things right when it comes to long-distance relationships.
So, we were boyfriend and girlfriend for the next two years. In that time were able to meet each other’s families, go on regular dates, and fall passionately in love and lust like any ordinary couple. We even had serious conversations about getting married and having a family.
While I understand and can appreciate the rush of young love, 17 and 18 is nowhere near an age that’s appropriate for seriously thinking about marriage and kids. You should not be getting married if you’re too young to drink at your own wedding reception.
Also: This sounds like right about when things are going to fall apart.
Everything was fine, up until the second year of our relationship.
She was a high school senior, and I was in my first year of college. Because of her turbulent past, not only had she more of less completely abstained from alcohol or smoking, but she had trust issues that only got worse because I was in college in a co-ed dorm.
OK, this right here? This is a warning sign. Trust issues are the death of many a relationship. A girlfriend with trust issues when you’re 18 and in college? Yeah, that’s just never going to end well.
I on the other hand, hadn’t had a lot of friends in high school, and didn’t have many chances to drink and had never done drugs. When I got to college I was thrown into the whirlwind of partying, drinking and weed smoking. At first I kept all of that from her, fearing that she would judge me as just another dumb college guy. That charade didn’t last long; eventually she snooped through my phone, found texts concerning weed and confronted me. I confessed everything, and things were never the same.
So here we have three problems.
First: you’re a) ingesting substances that’re going to inhibit your sense of judgement, b) in an atmosphere drenched with sex and c) doing this at an age where 99.999% of guys would fuck a spongecake if it would get them off d) when your girlfriend is hundreds of miles away.
All in all, this is about as perfect a way as you could want to find yourself waking up the next day with a splitting headache and a naked girl you don’t know asking if you saw where her panties got off to and a really long and awkward conversation later with your soon-to-be-ex.
So yes, this was not the smartest thing you’ve ever done. But hey, from the sounds of it, you managed to get out of it without any unexpected or unintended acts of infidelity, so good for you.
Second: You knew that this wasn’t going to make her a happy camper, but you did it anyway and hid it from her. I’m not condemning for what you were doing; you were making up for lost time and – again – it sounds like you managed to at least do so in a relatively controlled manner. It’s the lying about it that wasn’t kosher. For some people, weed and/or drinking can be deal-breakers. You may or may not have had an agreement in place that you wouldn’t drink or smoke, you don’t say. But even if you didn’t, you did owe her the honesty of letting her know that this was going on and at least letting her decide whether your making up for lost time was going to be a cost to entry that she was or was not willing to pay.
Remember: never lying means never having to remember what you said the next day.
Still, as far as relationship sins go, this is pretty minor but still not cool.
Third: She snooped through your phone, which is a dumping offense in my opinion. Yes, you were doing (again, minor) shit that she would not have approved of, but violating your trust to find out about it is the greater of the two sins.
Here’s why: up until now, you crazy kids have been dating for two years, you’re talking seriously about having children and spending the rest of your lives together …and she still doesn’t trust you. Relationships live or die on mutual trust and she already didn’t trust you. And by extension, hasn’t for the entire length of your relationship.
Frankly, I’m of the opinion that those who go snooping deserve what they find.
We stayed together, but it wasn’t the same after that.
No, I rather imagine it wasn’t. The problem with dating someone with trust issues is that you’re stuck in a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation. There’s nothing you can do to reassure her that you’re not doing things wrong. There is no such thing as a reasonable demonstration that you are, in fact, trustworthy, nor can you ever truly gain her trust. You are stuck in a never-ending cycle of accusations and reassurances that mean nothing, walking on egg shells to avoid setting off her overly sensitive suspicions and bending over backwards to convince her that everything’s on the up and up… and then getting accused of wrong-doing anyway. To make matters worse, you’ll often find that you start blaming yourself for the situation and taking on guilt that you don’t deserve. You’ll find yourself saying that it’s not her fault, that’s just how she is and you really shouldn’t get her mad…
If that sounds familiar it should. An unintentionally emotionally abusive relationship is still abusive.
Having trust issues isn’t an excuse for being abusive or making someone else miserable. It’s on her to talk to someone and work through her issues.
Not long after that, I started running and quit smoking altogether to help my breathing. But two weeks before the commencement of my sophomore year of college, she came to visit me, snooped through my stuff when I was in the shower, and found the pipe I had used to smoke. She didn’t believe me when I said I had quit smoking and had just never gotten rid of the pipe and broke up with me.
Again: violations of trust, needless drama. I know this period sucked but you were well rid of her.
(And as an aside to everyone about to ask why he kept the pipe if he quit smoking: I know plenty of ex-stoners who kept their pipes and bongs afterwards. Some had sentimental value others were objet d’art in their own right. And others figured hell, shit costs money, yo.)
I began my sophomore year in a slump. I was absolutely crushed. But then a weird thing happened. Six months passed; in that time I got in really good shape, partied, met girls and got good grades on top of all of that. I met one girl in particular, with whom I fooled around and slept with.
Excellent. You followed my exact recommendations for surviving a break-up, and it sounds like you’re well on your way to being a better, healthier (emotionally and physically) person than you were before.
When that fling ended, I realized that I still had feelings for my ex, and contacted her over my winter break.
We caught up and things seemed fine, until she asked if I had been with other girls while we were broken up. I was honest with her, she freaked out and so began two months of constant fighting through text and phone calls before she went to navy boot camp.
This, if anything, should have been the final nail in this relationship’s coffin. You broke up. You were a single man for damn near a year. You could have screwed every sorority girl from here to Maine and be well within your rights to do so. The fact that she gets so upset that you spend two months fighting about it is ludicrous.
I hope you understand that in that moment, you’ve received a preview of what the rest of your life would be like with her.
Before she left, things were a bit calmer; I guess neither of us wanted to let go.
We wrote letters back and forth during her time in boot camp, saying we loved each other amongst other things. By the time she was done, I was home for the summer and she was on leave and visited me. We hung out and slept together.
I am now a junior in college and she was just deployed for six months on a ship in the pacific ocean.
So. After all that backstory, should I keep up with all of this? We love each other, but sometimes I feel like there’re too many scars to ever be together as a real couple again. We made an agreement not to date each other while I was in college or while she was in the navy. I’m just worried things won’t work out. Hell, on top of all this she’s a conservative, tea-party supporting Christian. I’m a liberal agnostic theist. The odds just seem stacked us working out. Should I stick it out like I’ve been doing, or just end this for good?
OK, I’m going to say this as calmly and carefully as I can and I want you to understand that I’m completely serious when I say:
DUMP HER. DUMP HER RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
Send her an email telling her that it’s over and that it’s never going to work out. Then take the nuclear option. Delete her number from your phone, erase all of her texts, unfriend her on Facebook, arrange for any of her stuff that you may have to be delivered to a neutral location and cut all ties. Do not let this woman ever work her way back into your life.
You will feel guilty. She will do her best to make you feel that you’re the one in the wrong and that you’re being unfair to her.
You’re not. You’re being fair to yourself.
There is nothing about this relationship that is even remotely healthy. Hell, you may have noticed yourself that despite a sucky break-up you were a better, happier person when she was gone. And you will be again… as long as you don’t let her back in. You’re young, healthy and in college; you’re in a perfect position to actually live life instead of having this emotional leech stuck to you.
Dump her and don’t look back.