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Dear Wendy

Emotionally Unavailable

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  • This topic has 24 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks ago by avatarLisforLeslie.
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  • #905545 Reply
    bittergaymarkBittergaymark
    Guest

    Eh, I am still confused as to what he actually did. As written here, it sounds like you gaslighted him into believing what he did was oh so terrible but then he later realized it wasn’t and got pissed at you…

    #905917 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    Maybe the mistake you made was to think it was the ex (and her family) who was the cause of everything, rather than acknowledge that it takes two people to have a complicated relationship. You thought you could fix it by asking him to tone down or stop certain behaviors, but you weren’t looking at the big picture that this IS his relationship with her, and he wants it that way. He was willing to lie and deflect and whatever else in order to continue the friendship, because it’s important to him and apparently he doesn’t know how to stick up for himself and say look, this woman is my friend, this is our relationship, and if you don’t like it, leave. You thought, he’s perfect except he likes this woman’s photos too much or replies to her texts too much. But in reality, he had this relationship with her that obviously mattered a lot to him.

    #906021 Reply
    avatarron
    Guest

    Sounds like bf can’t handle confrontation, but can’t stand the level of control and boundaries LW wants. She has obviously been on him about his social media/e-mail with the ex, many times, likely more stridently to his ears than in her mind. As she describes the parting, something clicked in his mind after the prior night’s confrontation and he decided he just couldn’t do this any more.

    Both of her posts describe his actions as stubborn, stealthy, but at root not all that big a deal. Nothing that screams this guy wants to cheat, more he wants to continue a platonic relatinshp with his ex, is unwilling to fight about it, so goes covert.

    Break-up is for the best. She has learned she can’t change him. ONe has to accept one’s SO at least 90% as they are and attempts at changing them have to be once or twice and done, not a constant process pushing against refusal to change.

    I still think LW could use some therapy for jealousy issues. When the main justification for views and action is “I’ve been cheated on in the past,” then that person is a big part of the problem. She can’t let go of the past SOs who cheated, he can’t let go of a close friendship with an ex. These drives kept butting up against each other.

    As with BGM, I still don’t see the terrible thing he did, or even the thing she thought was so terrible, because she continues to gloss over it. This suggests to me, perhaps unfairly, that in a part of her mind she realizes how much she is over-reacting to something normal/trivial. When you go into a new ‘almost perfect’ relationship with the primary goal of not getting hurt again, while dwelling upon past cheating, it’s not going to go well, because you really haven’t recovered enough from the hurt to be truly ready for a new relationship. Usually, it’s just an incompatibility surfacing, even if that incompatibility is timing/geography.

    P.S. Cheating isn’t necessary for hurt. Dating and dating which turns into a relationship is a process. Most don’t find that lasting relationship. The end of any relationship you had hopes for, even with zero signs cheating really hurts a ton and requires a healing period.

    #906036 Reply
    avatarron
    Guest

    Here’s the deal: you say she was inappropriate and that he was less inappropriate. But… you never say what you viewed as inappropriate. You say you want firm boundaries, but not what those boundaries were. This failure to define yourself, even on the second attempt, makes you seem really overly sensitive, especially coupled with the sprinkling of comments here and there about him not really doing anything wrong and her and her family taking advantage and stepping all over him. Friends help friends. She wasn’t just a former gf, she and her family were friends. Honestly, would your reaction tot his friendship be the same if they had never been lovers.

    #906178 Reply
    avatarFyodor
    Guest

    If I could have one piece of advice to posters it would be to greatly change their bayesian priors about how much they can change their partners’ behaviors. Most of the time it doesn’t work and ends up being a massive waste of time and energy. This doesnt mean it can’t work and is never worth it, but it should be reserved for situations where you have an otherwise good and working relationship and established baseline of good and considerate behavior. In most cases if you are dating someone who does things that really bother you, you are better off breaking up and finding someone who doesn’t do those things.

    #906303 Reply
    avatarTalis
    Guest

    Wow, thank you so much for your advice and insights! You’ve given me a lot to think about, and raised some really compelling points. I could have definitely provided better context for some of the things I shared, but at this point I’m realizing it wouldn’t change the bigger picture. You’ve helped me to see this from a different angle, and I needed that.

    #906671 Reply
    avatarTalis
    Guest

    I’ve been mulling over your responses and I wonder if I could get your take on one specific example.

    Very, very early on when we were still just in the dating phase, he went to her parents’ house for dinner. I don’t remember exactly how I asked about it – maybe that is an important detail, as some of you have pointed out how my behavior could potentially come across as pushy, insecure, etc. – but as I didn’t know anything about them at the time I don’t think I was giving off any negative cues that would have led him to lie. My opinion was still a blank slate back then and I was just trying to get to know him better.

    What he told me was awful. He explained that over a year prior, he had lent his ex his car. During that time, her dad took care of the maintenance on it, and when he got the car back – there were parts missing. And he felt that if he did not go to dinner with them, they would retaliate by never returning the parts. He told me they were alcoholics who behaved unpredictably and could be volatile, and understandably seemed distressed by it.

    The picture that this story painted for me was one of manipulative users who were taking advantage of his niceness to basically steal from him and then blackmail him. Maybe I am just cynical or something and judged the situation too quickly but I would be upset to hear this kind of story from anyone, whether I’m dating them or not, whether it involves their ex or not.

    …well, some months down the road, something came up (I can’t recall exactly what) that contradicted this story. And my reaction was basically, wait what? Didn’t these people kinda do you dirty? He had absolutely zero recollection of telling me this. Completely blank. He said not at all, they had done him a favor by helping him take care of his car. Technically, the lug nut went missing in the process, but it was likely forever lost in their garage and he wasn’t concerned about it. He figured the least he could do for their troubles was drop by for a meal when they requested it. (For what it’s worth, the alcoholism part may have had some truth. Her dad routinely drunk dials him.)

    The first version of the story is pretty dramatic. The second version is actually… well, kind of sweet. But by the time I’d heard it, my opinion of the first story had already colored my perception of the interactions that came to follow. I admit this was at least partly why I judged so many things, even harmless things, through a negative lens. Once the “real” story came out, I struggled with separating truth from fiction, and I think it led to some of my reactions being less measured than they could have been.

    Overall, my takeaway is that, he and I clearly saw this from very different and conflicting perspectives. I wish he had been more open and direct about his needs and comfort levels, but I also see where I could have been more receptive to his feelings. I don’t think this example necessarily changes any of that, but for me this is the origin story of why I started down the path of discomfort and I would welcome your thoughts on it.

    #906698 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    Girl. He’s got issues. That story he told you was weird and fucked up. That’s not normal. I dated a shady guy, but he didn’t tell weird-ass disturbed stories like that.

    Also, even if it were true, what the fuck?? Go to frickin Autozone or something. Who lets themselves be pushed around like that? The story didn’t even make sense.

    #906713 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    He sounds like a professional liar.

    #906954 Reply
    avatarbloodymediocrity
    Participant

    I’ve kind of been on the other side of this – I’m ashamed to admit I had to be dragged into setting proper boundaries with my ex-wife. But there’s clearly more than simply boundary issues with his ex at play if he’s making up bizarre stories to justify going to dinner, and then denying that ever happened. Plus, his lack of being able to communicate with you reasonably on the subject are a big red flag as well.

    Either way, he’s clearly not ready to move on, and you did the right thing breaking up with him. I think it’s worth analyzing if you have jealousy issues, but I don’t see any big red flags on your end here.

    #906979 Reply
    AkeathAkeath
    Participant

    Yeah, that story he told you at first was definitely a lie. I’m familiar with that method of lying – there’s a manipulation to it and it starts at what he wants to happen with the lie, and can be traced from there. In this case he was concerned about a new girlfriend thinking he was too close with his ex’s family and would argue with him that he shouldn’t go and so he created a story where a) he still got his way in going by making up a situation where he just *had* to go and b) you weren’t threatened by their continued closeness. Ironically making you more concerned about the situation than if he’d been honest. Then later he forgot the lies he’d crafted, which happens a lot to people who are constantly lying. What was important to him was that he got his way by lying. This type of thing could have happened over and over, and he would have gotten more and more flustered when the pile of lies started creating an entirely different impression on you than he’d intended. His manipulations were backfiring with you and causing more conflict. So he just dumped you and the whole mess of a situation. I do see some undercurrents of jealousy here, as the others have mentioned. I can’t tell if he expected you to be jealous and that created the problem, or if you felt threatened by situations due to past issues with fidelity and that created the problem. Perhaps both were in play, and they fed off of each other.

    At any rate, people who show this type of manipulative lying are not good relationship partners anyway. It is easy to enjoy the positives of a relationship. But flaws are what make and break it. Also – there’s always a “but” because there is no such thing as a perfect person. If you don’t see a “but” and think a person is 100% perfect, then you aren’t seeing clearly. The question isn’t whether there is a “but”, but whether that flaw is compatible with you and your own flaws, and whether that “but” is bad enough to be a deal breaker or to keep the relationship from being healthy for either of you. I love my husband and think he’s as close to perfect for me as it is possible to get, but he sure as heck isn’t perfect. And neither am I.

    Couples are going to disagree, but when you do disagree you need your partner to be honest and work toward fixing things rather than manipulating you to get their way or trying to hide the nature of a situation so he doesn’t have to argue about it with you. Having issues with any of those is one of the flaws that is going to be a deal breaker. This was just a way for you to see that he had flaws in those areas, and it is a good thing that you saw them, acknowledged them, and then actually acted on it.

    #906998 Reply
    AkeathAkeath
    Participant

    Even though you broke up, I would say this foray into dating was pretty successful. You were able to find out his flaws and decide they were a deal breaker. Being able to do that is a big deal. You will probably be more aware of a pattern of lies or manipulation the next time around after having experienced this one. You also saw a situation where your flaws and his magnified each other, and through that were made aware of issues in yourself with jealousy that you might not have been as aware of before, and that you can work on now so that you can build a healthier relationship with a guy that suits you better in the future.

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