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So, I guess my question is– do you want to get the spark back? Does he? Are the big issues that ya’ll argue about dealbreakers or are they things you can figure out?
I’m honestly more concerned about the big stuff and now is absolutely the time to figure that out. I think it’s better to break up over large incompatibilities while you both still like and respect one another. Maybe that makes the breakup sadder in some ways, but it makes the process of detangling your lives easier if you do it while you can still work towards a common goal.
I’ve been married for 12 years, and together for 4 before that. The spark does wax and wane over the years and to me, it’s probably the “work” part of the relationship. More than something you feel, love is something you DO. The physical affection is something you have to make sure to do, even when you don’t always feel it. And I’m not really talking about sex, more just general affectionate touch. It’s a habit. The way you speak to one another is a habit. You have to make an effort to maintain good relationship habits the same way you maintain your workouts and your dental hygiene. If you aren’t maintaining basic good habits, it slowly kills the spark.
If you have longer hair, you may want to make sure you are getting all of your conditioner and hair care products off of your skin. I used to get terrible acne on my shoulders from my hair. Soaping down my shoulders again post conditioner and keeping my hair off my shoulders while sleeping really made a big difference.
Even if I take everything in your letter at face value, I don’t think you quite understand what it means for your girlfriend to have a personality disorder. The nature and severity of personality disorders is devastating- it means that the illness is at the core of your being. Doing anything about it, even just the work of mitigating the symptoms means a person has to change EVERYTHING. Not just how you interact with your friends and how you treat your boyfriend, but everything about how you structure your life.
I have a cluster C personality disorder. The symptoms don’t just affect my relationships, they affect everything. Because it’s my frigging personality. It doesn’t FEEL like an illness. It feels like who I am. Unfortunately, who I am is not very functional. I’ve been going to therapy every week for over 6 years just to recognize and minimize symptomatic behavior to function on a basic level. Because my disorder is anxiety based, from the outside it looks a lot like agoraphobia. In 6 years of work, I can leave my house and manage my shopping and order in a restaurant. I can call the vet and text a friend. But I still can’t look for a job. It takes a long time to manage even small, basic changes.
Your relationship sounds very classic to me- really good sex with a super hot person, and enough drama to fascinate. But, dude, those butterflies you feel when you think of her? That ain’t love, it’s anxiety. The sex hormones and your loneliness are confusing you. Those kinds of relationships tend to be very obsessive, because seeing her alleviates the anxiety. You actively feel better when you see her, so of course you want to all the time. But it ain’t love, even though it feels agonizing and desperate so it must be, right? Leave and stay gone, ya’ll are no good for each other.
I’m actually not talking about deep conversation. You can find points of connection over superficial things. I recall bonding over wallpaper in the early days with my husband. We don’t care about wallpaper, we were just in a room with wallpaper I hated.
What I really mean by speaking about how to connect is that you look for things you can ask about or connect with in the things SHE’S saying. For instance, I’m an artist and I work primarily in technology. AKA, I make video games. So, I also play a lot of games. If you were my date, I don’t expect you to play games or even really LIKE games. But I do expect you to respect that I like games and to try to engage with me on something at least adjacent to the topic.
So, because I know you drive for a living, I might try to engage you on the differences in a driving simulation and driving in real life. That’s a point of connection and I would want you to at least try to think a little creatively and find some questions or interesting anecdotes. It’s another reason to share what you do. I’m not looking to judge you, but to find what I can share about my life that intersects with yours. That is how I connect with you.
What I FEEL when I’m trying to talk to you, even in this format, is that you are too busy trying to figure out what you are going to say to me that you fail to internalize what I have just said to you. Stop a beat, take in what I’ve said, it’s important even if it’s superficial, even if it’s something you don’t care about. I need you to care about it or I wouldn’t have said it.
This thread has gotten so sad and difficult. Robert, you don’t need the women who’ve rejected you to tell you why. You have a dozen very kind and empathetic people telling you. Many of us are women. I don’t need to date you to tell you why I don’t want to. I’ve got 93 pages, and your personality shines clear through your writing.
And it is hard and sad for me to see. I’m an extremely empathetic person and I want so badly to connect. I’m not sure you can. I’m not saying that to be mean or pile on you, it truly makes me sad for you. Even with my friends and family, a sense of connection is very important to me (and to a lot of other people).
To feel connected means I feel seen and heard by you. I don’t just mean my actual words. But if you and I are having a conversation, even a superficial connection means that I feel you hear my words and hold them inside yourself– that you give them weight alongside your own words. That my ideas are not only interesting, but important to you.
Part of the frustration of this thread is that you don’t seem to listen. I KNOW you read every word and try to understand, but you don’t seem to internalize the emotional feedback you are getting. There’s a disconnect there which makes me wonder if you use checklists in lieu of connection.
So, I just read this whole thread. I have a few impressions to share, in light of the whole dang thing in one go–
Robert, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you’re a big ole weirdo. That’s cool, I’m a weirdo married to another weirdo, no judgement. But none of this comes through in any of your dealings with women. Like, you could potentially match with me when Christmas makes me grumpy and your idea of romance gives me hives!
It just strikes me that you’re being all about what she wants in your profile when it should be all about who you are and being all about what you want in person when it should be about what makes her comfortable.
The reason why I, and a lot of the other women on the board feel like you aren’t seeing your potential dates as people is because it feels as though you are auditioning for the role of girlfriend for your Hallmark Fantasy Christmas. You aren’t appreciating that the women you meet have full lives with their own fantasies, their own visions, their own things that are as important to them as Christmas is to them.
I feel, rather than look for a girlfriend, you’d almost be better off looking for someone who wants a Hallmark Movie themed fling over the holidays so you don’t have to ever be real to each other.
People will overlook a lot for someone they’re fond of– my husband only ever wears khaki pants and polo shirts and I’m not fond of his hair. It’s fine– he’s a scientist, he looks like a scientist. He looked like that when we met. But he’s also always made me feel like I mattered. A few years ago, I discovered a lump in my breast the week before Christmas (it was benign). I feel like in a relationship with Robert that would be a lot more fraught than it was for us. We dropped everything and rescheduled all family plans because of course we did. It would never occur to my spouse to resent me for that, but I fear that Robert would.
Life with another person is full of that other person’s stuff. It’s incredibly messy and people get bored or sick or the kids can’t manage in the car. You keep telling us, in so many words, that you can’t handle other people’s stuff getting in the way of your Christmas events. In order to have a serious relationship, there HAS to be room for another person’s stuff. So, there has to be a little give– either in what your life has room for or in what you’re looking for.