It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Cooling Off Girlfriend” whose boyfriend of six months was showing serious signs of depression and becoming irrationally hostile. He infamously even blew up over one of her exes liking a photo she posted on Facebook. Of a cupcake. Keep reading to see whether they’re still together or if the cupcake was the last straw.
I had written to you about how I was becoming very turned off by my boyfriend’s depression and, of course, the cupcake fight. I really appreciate you giving me some great advice about my relationship, and the comments definitely helped me realize that I’m not over-reacting and even pointed out some things I might not have noticed without an outsider’s perspective. So here’s my update on what has happened since then:
I really liked your idea of the “three strikes and you’re out” rule, and I agree that, since we had only been dating for six months at the time, it was ridiculous and not a good sign to be having so much strife, especially over a cupcake (I know it was really not about the poor cupcake). I had a serious talk with my boyfriend. I told him that I understand we all have tough times in our lives, but if we don’t ask for help from professionals when we need help, then there’s nothing that someone else can do for us. I also wanted him to get how disrespectful, crazy and plain-ass dumb I found his reaction to my ex liking a cupcake picture on Facebook. I told him that being clingy and controlling is emotional abuse, and that is a deal-breaker.
He apologized for taking his problems out on me and apologized for his comments. He doesn’t want me to think of him as a controlling and jealous crazy guy. I told him that if I had repeated his comments to my friends (I left out the part where I wrote to you), that people would be telling me to flee. He admitted that he was feeling very insecure and sad and not good enough for me, and I told him he was sabotaging himself and was pushing me away.
Right after our talk, he got a job that he had been wanting since we had met. It was a big opportunity for him. He has been there for three months and is already getting a promotion, is making new friends, and has started working out and dieting. He has lost a lot of weight and feels better about himself.
Now, we have been together for almost 9 months, and we’ve been very happy and have treated each other with kindness. We really are best friends, and he has helped me deal with issues with other friends and a family friend dying, and he has been very supportive of my career and grad school endeavors. He takes care of me when I’m sick, cooks for me and has been an amazing boyfriend.
BUT…I still have a nagging feeling that it’s not all rainbows and puppies. I agree with many of the commenters that I saw how he handles stress and it’s not good. When he is happy, he holds his head up high. But, he got a ticket the other day, and his depressed, clingy side showed itself for a second. He was ranting, and I had to remind myself to let him vent. Then, later, I went on Facebook just to check something real quick, and I received a mopey message saying: “Well, I guess I can just talk to you later if you don’t have anything to say back. Love you though”!
Okay, I know this seems like a very small thing, but I was already kind of on alert and this felt passive aggressive/whiny/clingy/everything that annoys me in one sentence. Even though it’s been going well and he has gotten his act together, I feel like I’m waiting for it to slip, and I don’t know if I’m being fair or if I am just paying attention to what some of the commenters were warning me about.
But since he did change a lot after our talk, I want to continue to give him a chance, but I also want him know that my personality, my pet peeve/borderline deal-breaker, is clinginess. He admitted again he was feeling depressed about money and the traffic ticket and is trying to get it together. He apologized if he had been weird. I accepted his apology (it was not like he fought with me over a cupcake), and I am still going to see how he does.
I have finished writing this and feel CONFUSED again. Sorry if my update is all over the place. It’s still a To be Continued…
-In Love, but still always Worried Girlfriend
Part of being in a successful relationship is accepting flaws in a person. Obviously, every single one of us has flaws. But if the flaws of the person you love happen to be your pet peeve, then it probably isn’t going to work in the long run. He’s better off finding someone who can tolerate a little clinginess now and then, and you’re better off finding someone whose particular flaws aren’t deal-breakers for you. Good luck.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 1:14 pm
Eh, as much as I wanted to bag on Mr. Cupcake — wanting to rant and rave about a traffic ticket to your significant seems pretty normal to me. I mean, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows — but your immediate response here is that he’s annoyingly clingy and you basically shut down and say nothing as you “allow” him to vent? Barf. How condescending. Get over yourself. How hard is it to speak up and say: “Oh my God! How awful!” His latter message to you implies you just shut down completely. How wonderfully supportive.
Meanwhile, he’s dealt with a bunch of your friend bullshit and a the drama of you dealing with another’s death. What do you want to bet that you, Miss Non-Cling was MORE than clingy about all that bullshit? Seriously. You need to realize that having a relationship is more having all your wants and needs met. Sometimes, it’s about meeting the wants and needs of other. Sometimes, it’s also about listening rather than being listened to…
You come across as shallow, self absorbed, vain, and absurdly narcissistic in this update. All of which are, um, far bigger sins than being a little clingy. Especially — since the latest example you provide of him being clingy isn’t really exactly of him being clingy.
GatorGirl April 9, 2013, 1:30 pm
Seriously with you on this one Mark.
He wanted to vent/be annoyed/be upset about a ticket for a little. That is normal.
lets_be_honest April 9, 2013, 1:32 pm
Idk, if I got some whiny ass message on fb like that, I’d be less than interested in continuing dealing with him.
GatorGirl April 9, 2013, 1:35 pm
Eh, it was an annoying comment but it’s not THAT big of a deal to me. My fiance says stuff like that some times, when I don’t respond to a text fast enough or when I’m zoning out and don’t reply. Like “well if you don’t have anything to say I’ll just keep it to my self.” It’s annoying but it’s his way of expressing his frustration that I don’t reply.
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 1:37 pm
All that depends on how bitchy and dismissive she was on the phone with him. Frankly, the content of that message makes me think… um, VERY.
theattack April 9, 2013, 3:02 pm
What is he supposed to say though?
lets_be_honest April 9, 2013, 3:08 pm
Say something that’s not passive aggressive and whiny. Jill, I’m upset about X bc of x, y, z. And say it in person, not over fb.
Girodet April 10, 2013, 11:53 am
Exactly what I was thinking “passive aggressive.” I hate that.
iwannatalktosampson April 9, 2013, 1:49 pm
Yeah I am never very supportive of whiny behavior and venting in general. It’s probably one of my biggest flaws. So if her pet peeve is people venting, and he vents a lot, I don’t see how it’s going to work out.
Sasa April 9, 2013, 1:44 pm
I think it’s beside the point whether he is behaving “normally”, or whether she is, or whatever. There aren’t really any rules about what can reasonably bug people. The fact is, his behavior annoys her, and it spells doom for their relationship. She should just be honest about her feelings.
Caris April 9, 2013, 5:23 pm
Don January 31, 2020, 1:39 pm
Seconded. She is being completely one sided on this. If you really want peince charming, you better be Cinderella otherwise stop moping about things and realize people are just that, people.
cdobbs April 9, 2013, 1:16 pm
Wow…that post on fb (Well, I guess I can just talk to you later if you don’t have anything to say back. Love you though)…yikes…passive aggressive and whiny to the max…not very manly or attractive…gah…hope things work out for you LW…regardless of whether you stay with your guy or not
ktfran April 9, 2013, 1:23 pm
I agree with Wendy. I don’t think this is the right relationship for you, LW.
I understand your hyper aware because of prior incidents. But, if even him venting now is going to set off warning bells in your head, I think it’s time to MOA. And venting is not being clingy. You not being there for him, or understanding why he needed to vent, probably set off his warning bells and he reacted by sending a passive-agressive fb message. Maybe he should have just said “LW, I’m really upset about this ticket and need to vent.” But if everyone had perfect communication skills, this world would be a hell of a lot different.
LW, find someone who’s better suited for you. I don’t think this guy is it.
GatorGirl April 9, 2013, 1:32 pm
This is all so bizarre to me. First the crazy cupcake rant, then you over reacting to venting about a ticket, melodramtic FB whineyness. Sounds like middle school drama to me.
landygirl April 9, 2013, 1:34 pm
LW, there is no such thing as a relationship that is all rainbows and puppies and to think there is shows a level of immaturity in your personality. Your bf needs to see a therapist and you could probably benefit from one too if you think that him ranting about a traffic ticket is being clingy.
Maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to break up with him.
Miss MJ April 9, 2013, 2:44 pm
“Maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to break up with him.”
This X 1000. LW, if you want to break up with your BF, if he isn’t the right one for you, then just do it. Don’t sit around and try to justify it or blame it on clinginess or X or Y whatever. It’s not working out, and it doesn’t matter why. It’s time to move on before this just turns into an ugly, drawn out mess.
Lindsay April 9, 2013, 1:38 pm
Your description of the latest incident doesn’t really strike me as being clingy, though I’d be curious to know what exactly you mean by ranting and how you responded to him. If that’s honestly the only problem you’ve had with him, that’s pretty good. But I don’t think it is a black-and-white situation where you’re right or wrong. Some people have certain pet peeves, as you mentioned, and I think that makes a person sensitive not only to the actual behavior, but also in terms of what behavior crosses into pet peeve territory. I wonder, though, if something this small annoys you so much about him, maybe your relationship has run its course.
lets_be_honest April 9, 2013, 1:40 pm
I feel like its because she already saw red flags, so now she’s overly aware of yellow ones too. Nothing wrong with that, but I agree, its time to moa.
rachel April 9, 2013, 1:50 pm
I think that’s a great way to put it, LBH. It’s like she’s now on the lookout for whether a bad mood is bad enough to count as a “strike”. If you have to be that vigilant, he’s probably not the right one for you.
Lindsay April 9, 2013, 2:32 pm
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Sasa April 9, 2013, 1:40 pm
Agree with the others that this doesn’t sound good. Two “relationship rules” I’ve learned are the following: First, address problems in real-time. Don’t let them pile up. So when he was venting and you reminded himself to let him vent, but weren’t really ready to listen, you should have stopped right there and said something. Fake listening doesn’t work. And when he sent a mopey message, you should have said right away “don’t mope, it annoys me”, or whatever. And second, you can’t hide your feelings for very long. If you feel he’s too clingy, it’s going to become clear to him over time and you won’t be able to hide it. This goes back to the first one actually. Maybe just tell him outright that what annoys you about his behavior. He might not be willing or able to change it, but then at least both of you will know why it doesn’t work between you.
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 1:49 pm
Eh, I don’t see why it’s so wrong to send a mopey message after being all but being ignored. I mean, okay. I guess guys have to just do everything they can for their ladies and gratefully accept whatever scraps get thrown their way? Yes, I know I am being absurd here. But really? That seems to be the thesis of your comment here. 😉
Sasa April 9, 2013, 1:56 pm
No, I actually don’t think he’s doing anything wrong – I may not have expressed myself clearly enough, so thanks for giving me a chance to correct that. I just think that it’s a fact that she’ annoyed by it, reasonably or not, and suppressing that kind of reaction to a partner’s behavior usually doesn’t work for long. I think it’s better to throw things like “this annoys me” out (even when you’re not necessarily in the right) because it clears the air and helps you find out if there is any room for adapting one’s behavior (on either side).
lets_be_honest April 9, 2013, 1:59 pm
Why whatever do you mean, Sasa? You should actually be honest and open with your significant other? Crazy talk I say!
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 2:00 pm
Still, if she gets annoyed by such reasonable behavior — good luck ever having a relationship. Hey, good luck EVER finding a person who doesn’t sometimes, occasionally need to vent. I mean, it seems like this was the first time he has dared to vent in, um… months.
sobriquet April 9, 2013, 2:29 pm
I agree that she needs to communicate her feelings to him so that it doesn’t fester. However, I think that’s much more productive when done after everyone’s cooled off vs in the heat of the moment. If I’m venting about a stressful situation and my boyfriend tells me I’m annoying him… that’s not going to end well. That’s going to add more problems to the mix!
2_J April 9, 2013, 3:10 pm
I agree. I mean to be honest, i’m so very glad i am not on FB or anything like that anymore. it causes to much drama especially in relationships from time to time. Frankly, if i wanted to “vent” or complain about my ticket to my gf and got 0 reply at all and basically get blown off so that she could go jump on FB, i’d be rather irritated.
Sasa April 9, 2013, 1:48 pm
Just a last one… “being confused” very often translates to “refusing to face the truth”. So, you’re not actually confused, but very clearly perceiving a problem – just not ready to face the consequences (yet). I know this feeling very well and it sucks so much, but it’s way better to trust your intuition now than later.
iwannatalktosampson April 9, 2013, 1:54 pm
Ohhh I really like this comment! I think this is something we can all relate to.
Sasa April 9, 2013, 1:58 pm
Thank you, glad you liked it!
sobriquet April 9, 2013, 1:55 pm
I love Wendy’s response. There are going to be flaws in every partner you have. Successful relationships require both parties to work through those flaws. His reaction to the traffic ticket sounds normal to me, if not a bit whiney (but give the guy a break, traffic tickets suck the life out of you whenever you’re not financially stable). I would talk to him about it and figure out what exactly he needs from you whenever he’s stressed. Maybe he simply doesn’t want you to leave the room to get on Facebook whenever he’s talking to you about it. Sometimes the only way to know how to most effectively communicate with someone is to ask them.
If, however, the idea of asking him what you can do to make him feel better whenever he’s stressed doesn’t sound like a good plan to you, then I suggest you MOA. There’s nothing wrong with that, you’re just not a good match.
Skyblossom April 9, 2013, 2:59 pm
I agree that she needs to ask him how to best support him when he is down.
I think all relationships in the beginning have to go through the work of figuring out how you’re going to work things out. You have to express to him what you need and what annoys you and he has to do the same to you. If you know that you need to do that and it hasn’t occurred to him then you need to go ahead and ask him what he needs when he is down.
If he vents to you about what bothers him that should be okay as long as venting over something like getting a traffic ticket doesn’t last for hours or days. If his venting is mostly him being mean to you or insulting you or putting you down in some way then you are right to feel it is offensive. So I think you need to differentiate between venting to let off steam and venting that is a personal attack. If his venting was offensive because he was screaming about it or breaking things then you also should feel concerned. So you should decide what it was about his venting that bothered you. Was it that he was venting or the way he was venting and if it was the way what exactly about it bothered you.
If he sends a Facebook message that tells you he wishes you were a better listener, even if it is passive/aggressive, it is him reaching out to you to let you know what he needs. You need to respond to him. It wouldn’t hurt to apologize for blowing him off, which it sounds like you did, and then tell him how you wish he would approach you if he is upset by your behavior. He may or may not agree with your approach but at least the two of you can work on it together.
This is the hard work of any relationship. You have to decide whether this relationship is worth the work.
sarolabelle April 9, 2013, 2:06 pm
You know what one of my biggest pet peeves is? Someone who keeps their emotions in and doesn’t express them or communicate with me about how they are feeling
Last year my now husband’s father passed away. For an entire week we didn’t talk about anything at all other than “this is the funeral arrangement, this is the plan to leave on Friday and come back on Sunday. We are going to stay at this hotel” It is boring. I kept asking him how he was and he would shrug and a small tiny part of me (like 5%) thought, “wow, is this how he is going to be forever?” I held his hand and cried harder than he did at the funeral and ever since then he has never really told me HOW he felt because he can’t put it into words how he felt because the emotion is explainable and not common.
Relationships are never rainbows and puppies all the time. Puppies still crap and rainbows only appear after there has been some rain.
Anna April 10, 2013, 2:27 am
“Relationships are never rainbows and puppies all the time. Puppies still crap and rainbows only appear after there has been some rain.”
I love this!! I nominate this for “Quote of the week” or whatever. And seriously, that’s what I tried to tell my ex for years but he always seemed to think if he were with the right person that his entire life would be rainbows and puppies, and neither of us would ever be sad or depressed or stressed out again. Good luck finding that!
ele4phant April 9, 2013, 2:20 pm
So, not that I’m saying you should move on necessarily, but do you think you can ever be comfortable again, or will you always be a little on guard for him to “slip”? Who knows if he ever will (and he might have nipped it in the bus once and for all) but its not a good dynamic if every rough day or stray comment makes you uneasy. It’s one thing to get annoyed by a partners occasional clingyness, and another to constantly be worried if wha you’re seeing is the start of something more permenant state of being.
I guess what I’m saying is, can you feel comfortable in this relationship? We can’t know how he’ll behave in the future, but if its something that’s always nagging you in the back of your mind, that’s not going to make for a healthy relationship in the long term.
Fabelle April 9, 2013, 2:23 pm
My response to this update is colored by the batshit craziness of the first letter (much like your reaction to your boyfriend, LW, is probably colored by the extreme irrationality he displayed early on when the chips were down, so to speak). All I can say is that…you probably should have just moved on. This relationship doesn’t seem right for either one of you.
kerrycontrary April 9, 2013, 3:39 pm
I feel the same. I can’t get over the boyfriend’s behavior over the cupcake picture.
Fabelle April 9, 2013, 2:29 pm
Also, in regard to the FB message thing—is anyone else confused by that? Or am I missing something? I feel like we’re all kind of supplying in our minds what the situation was…BGM is saying they were on the phone, some others are implying the whole rant was over Facebook? But I’m totally confused by the wording:
” He was ranting, and I had to remind myself to let him vent. Then, later, I went on Facebook just to check something real quick, and I received a mopey message…”
So, like where was he ranting? Personally, *I* was picturing it in person. Like, in the same room? He’s ranting, & she turns to the computer to check Facebook in the middle of his rant, & then he—I dunno—gets on FB mobile to send her a whiny message? Because otherwise, I don’t get it.
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 3:33 pm
I guess, I just assumed it was over the phone. As people aren’t usually with one another 24/7. But yeah, the letter is vague and for somebody who doesn’t like whining… um, very whiney. 😉
Diablo April 9, 2013, 2:41 pm
I’d go even farther than what Wendy said. It’s true that if your partner’s flaws are a pet peeve/dealbreaker for you, then you might be better off with someone else. But let’s face it, everyone is a jerk and an a-hole some of the time. Everybody behaves badly, has bad days, and has bad times in their lives that go deeper than a ticket, like losing a family friend. Sometimes all of this stuff happens at once, and you lose it, for an hour, a day, longer.
In a real LTR, you will see all of the bad in your partner’s character, over and over. You will never have seen the last outburst or whatever. You also see all the good. You see everything. patterns repeat, they morph, they return. You change and grow. You will not be the same person in 20 years. Change is the default. You change together. I can’t say whether there is any long-term potential here. That’s your call, LW. But anyone you stay with long-term will involve lots of work and good faith. I have a great marriage, but we had a spat about styles of communication yesterday, because she came home from a bad day and needed to vent at length, but i was tired too and wanted her to pay attention to me. We both blew up, then we apologized, got clingy, and then made supper and watched a movie. Then this morning, magical lovin’. There is no lingering “what if” here; it’s done and over, and will happen again. I’m 47 and I’ll never be too old for the drama. That’s the flavour in life. It could be sour in your mouth, but you’ll never taste the sweet unless you commit. I don’t necessarily mean marriage here, but it really is for better and for worse, etc. You don’t get the better if you don’t take the worst.
csp April 9, 2013, 3:07 pm
LW – each couple has it’s quirks and you need to learn how to deal with them. There are tons of compromises you make in order to be happy. For example, my husband loves sporting events/concerts but HATES traffic. To the point that he will yell at the cars around him. I tried to reason with him for YEARS. Then I realized that I needed to adjust our plans so that we don’t put ourselves in a stressful situation. Now we get there very early and tailgate. Afterwards I will mosey around the stadium, go to the nearby bar to get one last drink, know which parking lot to park in so we have the quickest escape. He does the same thing with me. He said that there is no fighting my need to be in a well lit house so he just turns off lights after me. we aren’t perfect but we love each other. so we do things proactively so we don’t fight. I think you need to try and learn about what sets him off rather than look at him when he already angry.
Sophronisba April 9, 2013, 3:28 pm
The problem here is that he hasn’t dealt with his issues – at all. His circumstances have gotten better so he feels better (and behaves better), but it doesn’t sound like his skills in dealing with setbacks or perceived slights or insecurity have improved. You’re on the alert because you know the problems are still there. If you want to give this relationship a better chance, suggest couples counseling to improve your communication..
AKchic_ April 9, 2013, 2:30 pm
I don’t think this relationship is going to work out in the long term. In the short-term, they have already had problems, and she feels that because they were together while she dealt with a death and some family/friend issues, then dammit, they MUST be destined or something.
Look, some couples deal with life changes while together. It does not mean that they are meant to be together. It just means that life doesn’t stop while you try to find “the one”.
I would like some clarification on the ticket issue. Was the LW actively listening when he complained (ranted)? Did she provide feedback? How long did he complain? How long after he stopped his initial complaining (ranting) did she hop on facebook “just for a second”? And was it really “just for a second”? Some people say they will be on facebook “for just a second”, and 45 minutes later, they are still on facebook, laughing at stupid pictures, chatting with people, and playing Farmville. Checking messages, my ass. I have this issue with my SO. When he says “a few minutes, I know I might as well pop in an episode of Legend of the Seeker or Torchwood and not even worry about seeing him for another hour. If I make a comment about it, he calls me passive aggressive and bitchy. I say that if at 9:30 at night he tells me we’re going to watch a movie before bed, but he’ll be “a few minutes”, I shouldn’t have to wait an hour before I get to start the movie, especially when I have to work the next morning.
If the LW didn’t actively listen and immediately hopped online and spent 45-60 minutes instead of the “few minutes” she claims, thus irritating him for not taking time to listen to him and appearing insensitive and spiraling him into his whiney, depressive, passive-aggressive crap that she can’t stand, thus spiraling the both of them into a pit of despair that is sure to break them up.
LW, do the both of you a favor – break up sooner rather than later. A guy of 9 months is really a better friend than any of the friends you’ve had since before you met/started dating him? What does that say about you?
kerrycontrary April 9, 2013, 3:38 pm
“some couples deal with life changes while together. It does not mean that they are meant to be together. It just means that life doesn’t stop while you try to find “the one””—This is genius.
bittergaymark April 9, 2013, 3:35 pm
REALLY? One silly incident of venting over something that tends to piss everybody off — a traffic ticket — and he hasn’t dealt with his issues? Come on…
Jess April 9, 2013, 3:42 pm
See, I think LW sounds wise for her years. That’s just how I read her.
Couple thoughts about the clingy factor…
1. Wendy hit the nail on the head. Clingy is a trait that some people can accept and others cannot. I absolutely cannot tolerate it, personally. BUT that may be in part because I can be a little clingy myself and therefore, find it especially loathsome in others (don’t we tend to hate the bad traits in others that remind us most of ourselves?). And one person’s “clingy” is another person’s “romantic.”
2. I know this behavior and I trust LW when she says he had a passive aggressive clingy meltdown over the ticket –even if she didn’t describe it and even if it lasted a “second.” The jealousy, the pouting over a delayed email reply, that kind of stuff gets old fast. When someone is clingy, they set impossible expectations which means you are constantly failing your partner, apologizing, feeling guilty, and growing resentful.
3. It sounds like the BF has made improvements but I think LW was very wise when she mentioned that he will always process stress in this manner. I think she’s right. That’s his coping mechanism. No one’s stress demeanor is a pretty sight. LW won’t find someone who is perfect and composed all the time. I don’t think she’s asking for that. It’s more a question of compatibility.
sarolabelle April 9, 2013, 3:46 pm
I’m not sure we read the same letter….
Jess April 9, 2013, 3:55 pm
For what it’s worth, I agree completely with your points above about the importance of open communication and, for that matter, expressing your emotion and being vulnerable with your partner. There’s a big difference between that and the behavior she is describing. You can vent about your job loss, parking ticket, or whatever else without being clingy and passive aggressive. I find it to be a great joy to listen to my partner or give him some TLC when he’s had a shitty day. We constantly bolster each other and cheerlead each other, but he doesn’t depend on me to define his self-worth. And he doesn’t guilt me into giving more of myself. That’s what I read here (and especially from the first letter).
Fabelle April 9, 2013, 4:16 pm
Yeah, I’m with you, FWIW. I trust that she’s reading his reactions properly, plus with the added background of the first letter—this sounds like someone who not only handles stress badly, but CREATES stress for himself. It doesn’t read to me like she’s incapable of dealing with regular relationship up-and-downs (although I understand those who are arguing that way).
MissD July 8, 2013, 8:49 pm
I agree. I had a boyfriend like this-when things were going well, everything was fine. But if anything went wrong, no matter how insignificant, it triggered the clingy, whiny, passive-aggressive stress response LW has already seen. It is exhausting to be with someone who is overly pessimistic and has a low threshold for stress. If indulged, it can lead to stupid fights and red-flag level outbursts. If downplayed, it leads to passive-aggressive whining. The partner of this kind of person is burdened by being responsible for reassuring and uplifting them EVERY time something upsets their apple cart. Honestly, I think this relationship has run its course. My relationship with the same kind if partner last 1 year too long. Fortunately we managed to stay friends, but I think that is exceptional and unlikely to work out well for most. It only worked out in my case because I was the breakupee. The reason for this was the fact that my ex constantly threatened suicide (not as a result of a breakup, just due to depression and an inability to cope with normal life stressors). All this to say that I feel the LW has accurately judged the bf’s character and is correct in worrying that the other shoe will drop. It’s not healthy to constantly wonder when (not if) life will render your partner unable to cope, therefore relying heavily on you to help carry them through situations that a healthy person should be able to handle in their own. No matter how nice the guy, the relationship is doomed if he is essentially a cupcake-incident waiting to happen.
sarolabelle April 9, 2013, 8:50 pm
I took it as she didn’t do anything beyond listen to him. She didn’t give him TLC. She instead went on Facebook and said nothing. Would it have hurt if she hugged him and said it would be okay?
KKZ April 9, 2013, 4:38 pm
OK, trying to put a picture together in my head about how the Ticket Rant episode went – his response actually tipped me off to something.
So I’m thinking he’s ranting about the ticket, but it’s not just about the ticket, he’s also verbally beating himself up or talking down about himself somehow, maybe about his financial situation and ability to make money. He’s spiraling. And he’s trying to get her to reassure him, soothe him, and make him feel better. She thinks he’s just venting and it requires no particular response on her part other than to let him vent, so she doesn’t give him the attention he was hoping for, and indeed turns her attention elsewhere. And he pulls an Eeyore with the mopey message as a last-ditch attempt for sympathy.
This is the only way I can see it playing out in which him ranting about a ticket made his “depressed, clingy” side come out. And maybe “clingy” isn’t the right word, but I’d definitely say he’s “needy.” LW would do better in a relationship with someone who doesn’t publicly lick their wounds and expect others to join their pity party.
So count me among those expressing regret that this pairing has some problems, and is unlikely to work out full time. LW needs someone more independent and self-assured, and her BF needs someone whom he can depend on. Not calling you undependable, LW, but clearly you don’t want to be depended on in this way. And if you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to revert to his worst-case behavior, that’s going to sap the joy out of the relationship FAST.
Move on soon, and I’m sorry. It sucks to face the end of a relationship when there’s no tangible reason to break up, just a fundamental difference in personalities. Best of luck.
pumpkinbread April 9, 2013, 5:04 pm
|So I’m thinking he’s ranting about the ticket, but it’s not just about the ticket, he’s also verbally beating himself up or talking down about himself somehow, maybe about his financial situation and ability to make money. He’s spiraling. And he’s trying to get her to reassure him, soothe him, and make him feel better. She thinks he’s just venting and it requires no particular response on her part other than to let him vent, so she doesn’t give him the attention he was hoping for, and indeed turns her attention elsewhere. And he pulls an Eeyore with the mopey message as a last-ditch attempt for sympathy.
this is what i was thinking as well. sure, his FB msg is passive-aggressive, but i bet the tone would not have sounded hypercritical.
i’m definitely guilty of doing something like this. i struggle with depression and sometimes when things are going well and something like a parking ticket or a family issue crops up and it’s stressful and then i start doubting myself and i look to my boyfriend to kinda let me vent but also say, hey this will pass; you’re doing great.
i read the “love you though” at the end as if he might have been saying–i know i’m being a little insecure and i’ll get over it. i’m not mad at you.–at least that’s what it would have meant for me.
KKZ April 9, 2013, 9:27 pm
Yes! That’s how I read it too.
Jess April 9, 2013, 5:14 pm
Yes, this is what I pictured too.
lets_be_honest April 9, 2013, 5:21 pm
Pulls an eeyore! Love it.
Lindsay April 9, 2013, 6:46 pm
Totally. And thinking more about this, I wonder if his “ranting” was more of moping and self-pity than just being frustrated and complaining. Those are two completely different ways of expressing yourself. Everyone’s entitled to feel how they feel, but personally, sulking (if that’s what he was doing) would grate on me much more than someone just bitching about having to pay a ticket.
Iggles April 9, 2013, 4:39 pm
I agree with many of the commenters that I saw how he handles stress and it’s not good. When he is happy, he holds his head up high. But, he got a ticket the other day, and his depressed, clingy side showed itself for a second.
^^ THIS is not good.
Picture years ahead marrying this dude… buying a house together.. dealing with an issue with the in-laws.. having a baby… get downsized and losing your job.
ALL of these things are stressful. Think about the pissy and passive aggressive way he handles problems. YOU will have to put up with his bad moods and selfishness. You will have to ride out the problems (as they last for months? years?) and will be the one having to fix things because he’s too busy melting down.
When people show you who they are, believe them! WWS on this one!
Ammie April 9, 2013, 5:24 pm
It sounds to me like you’re always going to be wary about hints of this behavior resurfacing, since it IS so destructive. So the ticket thing, which you probably would’ve shrugged off from anyone else, seems like a big deal.
It *may* be a sign of regression, to be honest. We don’t know, because we don’t know him or you, so it’s hard to read the nuances. But if you feel like it is, and if this sort of thing is always going to cause you to have doubts, I’d move on. Your ability to take his rants seriously has been damaged because he overdid it before; now, even things that might seem fairly normal coming from anyone else are warning signs in him. It may or may not be fair, but it’s how you feel. You haven’t been in this relationship all that long, so finding someone with a more compatible personality is probably worthwhile.
Shandra April 9, 2013, 11:40 pm
LW just some more food for thought. For me the red flag is actually here:
“He doesn’t want me to think of him as a controlling and jealous crazy guy. ”
He should not want to BE a controlling and jealous crazy guy.
Sue Jones July 8, 2013, 11:05 pm
Eh, everyone has their stuff. It is just whether his “stuff” triggers your “stuff”. Just wait until you have kids. Then you will get triggered all the time since kids are so whiny and clingy. But you can’t break up with your kids. Better learn to deal.