I’m a woman, 33, wondering if my boyfriend of eight years is just throwing me crumbs.
We moved in together a year ago.
He knows that I want to get married and have a baby, but instead of getting me a ring for my birthday, he bought me a dress.
We work together, because he asked me to leave my previous job which I liked, and work in his store. It leaves him free to do the marketing and buying without having to pay “outsiders.”
In exchange, we now share the apartment for which he pays.
I know it’s not a perfect set-up… like I wonder what happens to me if we ever break up. But I keep waiting for us to settle in to start a family, which I’ve wanted for a few years.
(When we first dated, contraception was up to me but he said that if I got pregnant I’d have to get an abortion. I was young then so agreed).
His parents have never liked me because we’re from different cultures. My own parents are difficult, the men are all abusive.
I have anxiety issues and take medication. It’s made me gain weight and sometimes my boyfriend teases me about it. I’m pretty unhappy about it so that makes me feel worse.
But generally, he’s steady, doesn’t cheat, and is my only support. I love him.
Is there any chance that we’ll have a future together, or is he throwing crumbs to keep me around till he finally meets someone he really wants to marry?
Tired of Waiting
Yes, these are crumbs of support that you’re getting while also being stalled, distracted from, and ignored about what matters most to you.
The gift of a dress – no matter how flattering a choice – was actually insulting, like throwing a fake bone at a hungry dog. It’s time for him to say why there’s no engagement.
He knows you want a different commitment than the key to opening his store.
So it’s also time for you to ask, IF and WHEN.
You have no security in this relationship, though living common-law may entitle you to a financial share of his apartment, depending on the jurisdiction where you live.
But you’re not there for just a roof over your head.
Meanwhile, you suffer doubt and low self-esteem which is affecting your anxiety level.
If your boyfriend tries to talk you out of it (he will, because he likes being in control of you), get the referral from your doctor based on trying to get off, or reduce, your meds.
I empathize with your past growing up with abusive men in the family and the current rejection by your boyfriend’s parents.
You did nothing to deserve either, but now need to do something to gain the confidence to not accept crumbs of affection when you want a full and equal relationship with a future in sight.
Your boyfriend’s dictated all the terms by which you’re living – his place, his business, his right to withhold what you want most.
Counselling about your past and present relationships with the people supposed to be closest to you, will help you see the pattern that you’ve come to expect.
Once you see it clearly, you’ll learn ways to refuse to keep settling for getting little of what you need.
You’d also be wise to get legal advice to learn what you’re entitled to, should you decide to move on.
FEEDBACK Regarding the letter from "No Affair" whose wife accused him of cheating (October 11):
Reader – “I think (the late American advice columnist) "Dear Abby" once quoted a saying, “One wouldn't know to look behind the closet door unless he/she had also been behind that same door.”
“I wonder if the wife cheated and accused her husband, because she did it.”
Ellie – Psychologists sometimes call it “transference” or “projection” though a catchy phrase makes it clearer: when it comes to a cheater, “it takes one to know one.”
The reader suggests that the wife was cheating. Maybe so, while her husband went out regularly without her for seven years. Neither of them recognize that spending a lot of their free time apart, might not be ideal for their connection as a couple. What’s certain is that they both hide emotions behind excuses and accusations rather than compromise on doing some things he likes, and some things she likes.
Tip of the day:
If you accept crumbs in a relationship, it leaves you feeling neglected, disrespected, and unfulfilled.