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Don’t Look Here For Relationship Advice…….

“It’s all very well to say, “You fool, it’s now or never,”;
I could be choosing no choices whatsoever.”

—-“Someone Else’s Story”, from ““Chess”

People do come here often looking for advice on love, sex, and relationships, but seriously, anyone thinking about it should stop. The only advice I have is to look at what I’m currently doing, and do the opposite.

Over the weekend, I had a terrible fight with the Guy I Am Currently Dating. I’m not even sure what started the storm; all I know is that I was commiserating with someone at a party about how badly/aggressively credit card companies treat you, and the next thing I know, he’s refusing to speak to me during the 20 minute drive home. Once home, he made passive-aggressive comments until I told him flat out that I’m tired of being treated in that way. If someone is treating me like crap, I don’t have to accept it, and I deserve to know why.

He denied treating me like crap, which seemed a pretty oblivious assertion to make when someone is yelling at you and crying and closing their door to keep you out. He still refused to communicate with me, instead choosing the passive-aggressive, snarky comment road. That road isn’t how I communicate. It isn’t a road I can accept traveling on in the course of my relationships. When I have a problem with someone, I tell them. I also tell them why. I don’t just treat them like crap until they feel hurt enough to either cry or yell back. After doing both, I told him I didn’t want our relationship to continue.

For those of you who don’t know me, I didn’t grow up in the most stable home situation. My main goal in life was to be involved in as many things as possible that kept me away from home, because it was characterized by a family full of people with volatile tempers who would use any opportunity, any vulnerability to tear one another down. It taught me not to trust, because trust would always be used against you. It taught me to never ask for help or be open about problems, because it would always be used against you later.

It’s fair to say The Guy I Am Currently Dating didn’t grow up in the most stable environment either. I can’t make that judgment, but based on the fact that his mother has threatened my life and/or to call the cops on me if I didn’t leave her son alone, leave the city, and go back to my white trash Yankee family on numerous occasions, I’m going to say there’s a lack of stability and normal communication dynamics going on there.

What I took away from my family environment is that trusting people will always screw you over, because loving someone gives them permission to hurt you more than they might otherwise. The more invested you are, the more you’re setting yourself up to be torn apart when someone wants to hurt you or abandon you, and inevitably, they will. It taught me never to be dependent upon another person, because as soon as you are, they will throw it in your face whenever necessary.

These lessons are not false. When my ex-roommate decided nobody mattered but him, the first thing he did was to throw me under the bus and leave me in a situation where I would have been out on the street without help…twice. And when The Guy I Am Currently Dating was treating me in a way I deem unacceptable, and I told him I didn’t want to continue in our relationship, he said “Fine. Where are you going to live?”, because he’s the one who signed the lease for me.

Personally, I’d rather live on the street than accept this endless parade of people throwing my lack of self-sufficiency in my face. It’s like a constant reminder that you owe someone something, even if that something is being treated in a way that feels incredibly lonely and emotionally abusive.

After hours of arguing, The Guy I Am Currently Dating told me that I didn’t care about him, that I was the reason our relationship was never moving forward, that I was selfish and a liar, and plenty of other fun stuff. When I asked him in what way he considered me to be a liar, he revealed the whole fight was about the fact he didn’t know I’d committed the cardinal sin of having credit card debt I wasn’t paying off.

First of all, we’re not married, so my debt is not his. It doesn’t affect his life one bit. We don’t live together. I don’t see a future where either of these things are a possibility. He’s offended by the fact that I apparently am the one who doesn’t want our relationship to move forward, but the thing is, he already has a life. He has a house in the suburbs, a place I’d be extremely dependent on others to get around and even further from other friends, and where my health would not allow me to walk the amount necessary to get around. I also hate the suburbs. I’ve been out here for two years, and constantly miss the city. In many ways, I hate Atlanta, and don’t see myself living here for the rest of my life. But he was born and raised here, and in the four years we’ve known each other, we’ve never even gone away and traveled for a romantic weekend. For some reason, he’ll travel for events that have a purpose, but not just for the adventure of getting away and going somewhere new with someone you like. That’s kind of a deal-breaker for me.

On top of it, he’s strongly tied to his mother, who considers him her “baby boy” and her whole entire world. She’s done everything but physically assault me in an attempt to get rid of me, and I wouldn’t put it past her, just so she could file assault charges when I fought back. She’s never going to let go, let him out of the little world the two of them have created, and I’m certainly never going to become a part of that. So, even if we had the perfect relationship, there’s really no future. And that isn’t my choice. The fact that I sometimes keep an emotional distance is my problem, but it’s largely related to the fact that I know that the more I care about someone, the more painful it will be when we have to go our separate ways.

I do care, but I can’t just spend years and years of my life waiting for the relationship I want, when it’s not going to happen. I can’t sacrifice my independence, my openness to other relationships and opportunities, for something that has no positive resolution for me. I will never fit into his world, and unless he’s willing to leave it behind for me, we don’t really have a future, regardless of everything else in our relationship.

And the everything else doesn’t necessarily fit, either. We don’t always have a terrible amount in common, or enjoy the same things. We don’t have that magical thing that some people have where talking for hours is simple. We don’t communicate on an emotional or intellectual level all that easily, because the way we think and do things is so opposite of the other person. We have volatile arguments…this is far from the first…that doesn’t help my struggle with anxiety.

He has apologised to me, told me he has problems communicating, told me he was hurt by the idea of me not wanting to be together anymore…and it isn’t that I don’t care. I do. But there are essential things missing in our relationship that matter to me, and I think if I packed up my stuff and moved tomorrow, he wouldn’t follow me. He loves me and misses me, but he wouldn’t give up the life he’s designed for himself for a future with me, and I understand that. It’s just that I think the right person for me…if there is in fact such a thing…would. The right person wouldn’t expect me to want anything to do with a family member who inflicts verbal and emotional abuse on a regular basis, much less accept it as part of the package deal. The truth is, I don’t see a future…so if the present is so stressful, is it really best to keep hanging on to something that just isn’t right?

You can love someone, and find out it’s not right. The 50% divorce ratio in this country attests to that. Because, as the old 80′s song tells you, sometimes love just ain’t enough.

I’m not the type to want to be controlled, to answer to anyone, to be put down or subjected to conflict as a normal part of a relationship. I’m not the type to feel happy being with someone and realising I share more with other people in my life than I do with them. I’m not happy knowing we don’t communicate, think, and feel on the same wavelength, that we don’t share the same interests, the same vision for the future. Maybe the age difference is a part of it. But I think it’s more that our personalities and interests and communication styles are so fundamentally different, a level of conflict is inevitable. I’m all for working through conflict, but when it occurs regularly and is hurtful, it becomes obvious it isn’t the basis for a lifelong partnership.

For four years, I’ve been waiting for answers about “How does this all play out?”, and I’ve never gotten them. I’ve never gotten a willingness for him to leave behind his mother and his work and the comfort and security of home to get in a car or on the bus and go somewhere new. When I do, I have a great time, but I always have to go by myself. I share my memorable life experiences with someone other than the person I’m supposed to be the closest to…and something about that feels wrong. It’s more than obvious there’s no place for me in his world, and I need someone open to building a new world…possibly in a new place…together. Alone. No parents. We’re grown-ups now, and I don’t need a controlling influence in my life, which is why I communicate with my family twice a month and see them twice a year. Do I feel sad about that? No. Because there’s never a single visit that isn’t characterized by so much conflict that I want to change my plans and leave early.

I won’t accept that from my family, and I won’t put myself in a position to accept that from anyone else’s family members, either. But when it comes down to it, I’m with someone who isn’t going to break away and put me first, and after a few years of waiting around to see if and when things change, I realise you can’t change people. It has to be his choice. His choice seems to be, “I love you, but…”

And maybe that’s just how it is. But he can’t blame me for needing to do what’s right for me, and wondering if there’s a relationship for me where it’s all a little easier, where we’re emotionally and intellectually in sync, where we have a good time together more than arguing over how we see life or manage our personal situations, where there is a future that doesn’t involve anyone else, any level of practical or emotional unavailability…well, it seems natural that I would do that. I’ve spent so many years of my life in the wrong relationships, I’m not sure there is a right one for me. Maybe I’m not “relationship material”, and that’s why there are countless people in this world who truly love me and are attracted to me and want me around whenever possible, but they don’t want a relationship with me. And I get that, as much as I get that I know what I need in my relationships, and what I just can’t overlook.

I don’t know what to do. I feel so sad, so lost, so hurt. But I don’t want to be controlled, have to answer to another person about my choices all the time, feel a sense of dependency. I don’t equate that with love, but with losing myself. I don’t want to wait around for a life that isn’t possible because someone loves me, but wants a relationship on their terms, that fits into their life…and while they won’t make those huge changes for me, they think it’s fair for me to remain in stasis, wondering if I’ll ever be “the right person”.

I’ve spent four years with someone, and I don’t like the way we get along, I don’t feel like we communicate in a way that makes me feel understood or special, and I don’t like the fact that we only see each other three days a week, and one of them inevitably involves a fight. I don’t see a future, and that’s not a choice I am making…it’s how I feel about what’s been thrown my way.

I don’t want anyone to be hurt. But I have to be more than a spectator in my own life, more than dependent on someone else who wants to give me everything, but can’t accept that I won’t see the world and make decisions the way he would in return….and doesn’t understand that four years of not even being willing to travel outside of Atlanta with me makes a huge statement about how I do and do not fit into his life.

I am not happy, and this relationship is far from the only thing that needs to be completely reworked. But there comes a time when you just can’t stop feeling, “I love you, but I’m not happy, and you’re obviously not, either. Don’t we deserve to be?”

I do know one thing for sure. I’d rather live my life alone forever than have people in my life who want me to feel badly about myself, and use conflict to tear me down. I can’t keep popping extra Valium just to cope with the fights so I can go to sleep without wanting to run, or feel like my world is caving in. I am not happy, and I am not healthy, and I don’t know how to get there. I’m with a nice guy, but somehow, I’m turning him into someone who isn’t really a nice guy. I’m with someone who reminds me how well they treat me, and that’s usually true, but does it make up for the times when it’s not? Does it make up for everything that’s just not there in how we interact?

So, don’t come to me for relationship advice. I’ve had more of them than anyone I’ve ever known, and apparently, still know nothing about myself or other people. :(

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