Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I’m a new female reader and in the day I’ve known you you’ve already helped me end an abusive relationship. (That sounds a little dramatic, but your articles have definitely helped. Specifically: “When It’s Time To Break Up (and When It’s Not)”)
My boyfriend and I broke up this morning, and it wasn’t until just recently I decided to look into whether or not my relationship was actually bad, or if I was just overreacting like my boyfriend said I was.
There’s a lot that I want to tell you about our relationship– things you probably don’t care to hear, so I’ll just cut to the chase:
For months my boyfriend would tell me that I disappointed him on the daily. That when he came home from work, I should do things for him to make his life easier because his life sucked. That I should work on these large projects for him because he couldn’t draw and that I promised him that I would animate a cartoon for him a long time ago. And when I first started the project, everything was fine. I had the time to do it. But then I started to go to school full-time and I started working two part-time jobs; one of which was almost full-time on its own for a while.
He told me that in the few hours I had after school and before work, (which I usually spent sleeping, relaxing, or doing homework, after being out 13 hours+ in a typical day) that I should work on his project so that he wouldn’t have to do anything with his life. So that he could coast on his idea and on my hard work. Hard work that he would say wasn’t as hard as writing a script and that drawing that much should be easy for me. Eventually, I stopped working on it completely– a sort of defense mechanism with all of the disappointment he’d been throwing my way, I think. I was afraid to work on it at all, because when I looked to him for encouragement, all I got was: “That’s all you did?”
After a while- after my ignoring of comments like: “My cartoon is never going to happen. I have to give up on my dream and work at dead-end jobs for the rest of my life;” things were okay enough. I knew I would work on it again. I wanted to make his dream come true.
Eventually, if I did race back from school on time to see him for the short half an hour before he went to work, I would get comments like: “It was nice seeing you.” Or, if I stopped at a friend’s house or stayed at school to do homework, I would hear things like: “Thanks for coming home to see me, see you next week, I guess.” None of which he considered anything similar to emotional blackmail. If I even went out for the night– just once to relieve some stress with my friends, he would get jealous that I was making time for others and not for him. At certain points he even got mad at me for taking four hours to go see my family. They lived almost an hours drive away.
The only things that really peaked my relationship-awareness were a couple of friends who pointed out a few similar points about his actions towards me. At first I thought I was just complaining and over-exaggerating. Things weren’t that bad.. My friends were just sticking up for me, because I was only telling them my side of the story. Cody (the ex) was just having a rough-time lately.
My boyfriend and I drifted apart– we maybe saw each other an hour out of every day, and I started liking this guy at my work.. I wasn’t proud of this. I tried not to like this guy– he wasn’t even my type! Technically, still isn’t.. but your post: “The Problem With ‘Nice Guys'” has me getting worried..
This guy is a nice guy. A great guy, from what he’s shown me. He was there for me when I told him about my relationship problems with my ex, and listened when I hadn’t expected him to. I started to feel excited every time he walked into work, and we worked almost every day together for a few weeks. He’s much bigger in the hips and stomach than I’ve ever felt attracted to, so at first I thought it was just a silly crush that would pass. I’ve always been cool enough to be personable with overweight people, but vain enough to have never fallen for one. Previous notions telling me I had too many options, because I was the pretty girl, and that an attractive man would come along and sweep me off my feet– like I once thought Cody had. But this guy continued to be supportive, and I still find myself attracted to him. (I realize it sounds vain, and like I’m a stupid snob, but after more guys liking me than I care to count – more nerds than anything – the thought kind of sticks)…
Neither of us want to go beyond casual at the moment, because anything serious would affect our jobs (one of us would have to transfer). Also, because I just got out of a 3 year relationship that has me feeling emotionally vulnerable and would make him look like the rebound, which I don’t want to do to him.
I hate that his physical appearance has anything to do with it.. but I’m afraid that if anything were to happen in a sexual nature– should his clothes come off– that I would be turned off and unable to continue. I don’t want to put either of us in that situation.
I don’t want to hurt this guy, because of how good he’s been to me and his being exactly what I needed when my boyfriend was draining me of all of my confidence and self-esteem. A part of me is afraid that subconsciously I’ve been using him, and since reading your article: “The Problem With ‘Nice Guys,'” I’ve been afraid a part of him is using me, too. (..or is that vain, too?)
So, out of one problem and into another…
Could you please spare a spec of advice?
-Into The Fire