QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I had written to you in May about how I read SU&D in college, and then once again while I was on vacation a few years later (I’m now in my mid twenties) and could appreciate it so much more… Anyway, so when I wrote to you, I was just about to move into an apartment with my boyfriend of a year and a half.
To be honest, things weren’t amazing before we moved in and being selfish, I convinced him to rent a place with me because I thought that it would make things better. He’s not Mr. Romantic, never really was. He doesn’t talk about how he feels. He’s very close with his group of guy friends and I kind of feel that they are a priority over me. He can’t spend a night alone with me, without texting them all night because he’s afraid of missing a funny joke during a game of beer pong or something. Him being almost 30 years old, I’m kind of tired of it. He doesn’t appreciate the things I do for him. Just one example: If I get home from work before him, I will ALWAYS have dinner ready for him when he walks in the door and I will wait for him to eat. Just the other night, he was 45 minutes late, no phone call, and couldn’t understand why I was upset with him. I said, “You don’t think I’m hungry? You don’t think I’d like to eat my dinner before 9 pm? If you’re going to be that late, have some respect and give me a call.” His response was, “What the hell are you talking about? Respect?!”
If I ever come home after him, he will already have eaten and I will have to make my own dinner. It’s just little things like that that add up and make me feel completely unappreciated. When he acts like that, it pushes me away. Now it feels like I’m living with a brother. We have sex once a week IF THAT because he’s always ‘too tired’. He’s obsessed with his computer games, cell phone and television. He was once playing a computer game, and I sat down on his lap IN MY UNDERWEAR and he didn’t even look away from the screen. How is that supposed to make me feel? And the worst part is, he doesn’t see anything wrong with how he treats me. He just doesn’t get it. And he’s been in relationships before me! One for 4 years! He talks about wanting to marry me and have kids.. but lately I’ve been thinking, ‘is THIS what I want married life to be like?’
Then, enter Mike. I work in a gym and Mike is a trainer there. He just started about 2 months ago. We’ve been talking for about a month. Basically, this guy is amazing. He’s said things to me that my boyfriend has never said to me in 2 years. He loves talking to me, says we have the best conversations ever.. (which is kinda true). He knows I have a boyfriend and feels bad about how we talk to each other but he said he can’t NOT talk to me. And I agree. I love talking to him too. So my problem now, is I’m totally torn. I love Rick (my boyfriend) but I don’t think he will make me happy in the long run. And I think before Mike came along, I was just kind of like ‘Ok, well I guess this is how it is. This is how it’s gonna be.’ BUT WHY SHOULD I SETTLE? And I don’t know if I’m so attracted to Mike because he’s showing me everything Rick isn’t?? I feel like Mike has almost given me the kick in the ass I need to get out of this situation. My mom said, “If you’re going to break up with Rick, it has to be because you don’t want to be with Rick, not because you want to be with Mike.” Which I understand, and is true. I just don’t even know how to go about the whole situation. We just moved in together 2 months ago!! And we have a year lease!!! I don’t want to be miserable, but one of these guys is going to get hurt. I’m stuck. One day I’m laughing about it, the next day I’m crying. I want to rip my hair out. I want to ignore it all and hope that it somehow resolves on its own. I’m embarrassed and confused and honestly, don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve only talked to my best friend and my mom about this and I’d really like to get an outsider’s opinion.
I’m sorry for unloading it all on you, but I’m curious as to what you’re going to tell me.
Oh, no you’re not. you’re not curious at all.
You know exactly what I’m going to say. I don’t even need to say it. But, of course, I will. Because I’m in love with my own words.
A year lease or your self-esteem—which is it? Go on. Choose. In the end, even in the short-term, which matters more?
You know why you bring up the lease? Because you already went there, to that place of “what if we were really over?” And you know what you thought of? Inconveniences. Get out now.
“I love Rick (my boyfriend) but I don’t think he will make me happy in the long run.”
Don’t think. Pack. Call the movers. Done and done, woman. Enough said. You’ve been eating crazy sandwiches.
People call off weddings, the day of. Not only have invitations been sent, but dresses have been altered, appetizer stations assembled, flowers pin-spotted, bikini’s waxed. M’lady, a lease is nothing. It feels like everything in your stomach, and you don’t want to face it, but you have to.
You’re right. Everyone who’s reading this is right. I don’t know you, or the other players, but I know this:
IF YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP with someone who hasn’t been the one initiating forward momentum, question things. If he’s the one, who instead, only moves things ahead out of fear of loss, then you have someone who’d rather lean toward the water of your sinking boat than grab a bucket and work to stay afloat. Consider this advice your red and white life-preserver.
—Straight Up And Dirty
You want Rick to grow up. You wish he were 35, not “almost 30.” You believe that if you ride it out, put up with this stage, with this age, with these priorities of his, he’ll outgrow it. Why, you can grow together! Then you won’t have anything to regret if things end and he ends up with someone else. Because that’s how you’re thinking, in fears. In loss. Not in love.
It won’t happen. He won’t grow up with you playing mommy, or even, “See if I care,” girlfriend. You can’t win this one because it’s already lost. If you threaten to leave, or actually leave, and he realizes he can’t live without you, that’s more fear. Fear of loss. That’s not whose lap you should be mounting, lady. You want someone who wants you because you make up part of his joy.
“How is that supposed to make me feel? And the worst part is, he doesn’t see anything wrong with how he treats me. He just doesn’t get it.”
Sex once a week ain’t too shabby. Try getting married and see what suck is. Look, forget Rick and Mike. I’m not telling you this so you apply it to your current situation. I’m sharing what’s next because it’s stuff you should know down the line, when you’re in your next relationshit…
Sometimes you need to have a discussion, in a non-threatening tone, discussing what would turn you on. You need to tell him that you feel amazing when you feel his urgency, when he can’t keep his hands off you, when he lets you know that he can’t stop thinking of you. You need to play hard to get, in a cat-scratch sex kitten way. Men like to chase tail.
We surround ourselves with people who make us feel special
That’s the need you met of his once upon a beginning ago. You didn’t nag or whine about dinner (talking in general, not about Rick). You made him feel needed, useful, adored, special. And he made you feel that way. Here’s the key: YOU need to make YOU feel that. You need to know you’re special, adored, useful, desirable without an external source saying so, proving it. You need to know it without the words, without the actions. Go on, I’m gonna loan you my old self-esteem song. The one I listened to on repeat, loud. You’re welcome.
“Don’t Need You To Tell Me I’m Pretty” by Samantha Mumba
We all express our love differently. You try to show it by being considerate, waiting for him, so you can eat together, cooking for him, having dinner on the table. Has it ever occurred to you that he doesn’t appreciate that (and THAT’S OKAY), that it’s basically wasted effort on your part?
Let me put it in terms of ME (because, hello). I live and die for food. Want to cook it, plate it, plan it, photograph it, pump and hump it. And my man? Couldn’t give a shite. Doesn’t care. Doesn’t want to hear about it. Will say thank you, how nice, but if he were to make a list of things that I could do that would make him happy, nothing revolving food would ever hit the list. And guess what? The man doesn’t even know what would be on his list. Because he honestly doesn’t know what makes him happy… aside from the general, “Be considerate, be responsible, don’t make me shoulder all the burden.” No. He can’t just say, “a back and whack,” that’s what’ll make him happy. He’s gotta be all difficult.
Stop doing things to make him happy, if it means you’ll be resentful if he doesn’t notice, doesn’t care, doesn’t appreciate it. Not to punish him, but to stop punishing yourself.
Phil does it all the time, goes out of his way to do things he THINKS will please me. Like arguing with Health Insurance people. “I make your life easier by dealing with it, so you don’t have to. Can’t you appreciate that?! And look, I went grocery shopping!”
Except I don’t appreciate it. I could’ve talked to health insurance people. The fact is, he damn well enjoys arguing with them and pointing out their misteps. And, hello, since when have I ever NOT wanted to go grocery shopping? Then he gets irritated as fook that I don’t appreciate all he does. THEN DON’T DO IT. Please, for all our sakes.
My longass point? No matter who you’re with, you need to learn to express love, not in the ways YOU want to receive it but in the ways that are most important to the person you’re with.
Every single relationship is co-created
You don’t want to hear—no, you don’t want to live this. You don’t want to walk through hard. I get it. But you have to. Every single relationship is co-created. You helped to create this dynamic you two have, these patterns, the expectations, the disappointments, all of it. You played a part. And until you realize what you even want, really want, you’ll do it again. With Mike, or anyone else.
And the last thing I’ll say. It ain’t about MIKE. Mike is your security blanket right now. He’s your easy out, you’re I won’t have to be alone. If it’s meant to be between you and Mike, he’ll still want you in six months. For now, you need to find a place to move, and move on it. You need to fulfill your own needs, create your own space (even if it’s smaller, even if it means a roommate). You need to let it go, so you can go get everything you want. ‘Cause you don’t want this.
Once upon a time ago someone said that to me, and I wanted to kick her in the China. No way was I going to “not date” and just “be alone.” But if that someone would have said, “If you don’t, if you refuse, you’ll only have a lot more of this pain you keep trying to escape. If you confront it now, do what’s hard NOW, you’ll be where you want to be all the faster. Not facing your fears will make them circle back. And you’ll keep hearing men whip out the ‘we need to talk’ bomb. Suck it up now, woman.” It’s why I’m saying it to you now.
GOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE?
If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Am I a doctor? I don’t even play one on TV, but people keep asking, so I might as well air it and share it.