This past year, I started a new job, and my then-boyfriend moved away. Two days after he left, a co-worker told me his intentions.
I was totally surprised. He wants to make me dinner, dance with me, give me a key to his place and be his girl.
I was scared and didn’t come to his place until three weeks later. It was difficult to get together, as he works days, I work nights.
He also makes time for his three sons, which is great, and spends one night a week with them.
He works seven days weekly to help his sons and support himself. We talked almost every day. He said he wouldn’t use me or hurt me.
He was very attentive and patient.
He’s divorced twice, and didn’t want to get married. I’ve never been married but have a son. He was worried I’d get pregnant but I wasn’t worried at my age.
Once, I went to his place without calling first. He didn’t like this and asked me to leave. He phoned me later, everything seemed fine.
He worked all weekend; Monday he called, said I could pick up things I’d left at his place. When I did, he just handed the bag of my things through the door and said to leave.
I’m now crying all the time. What did I do wrong? We were both lonely. If he had no time for a relationship, why pencil me in like an appointment?
Am I in the Wrong?
No. You’re in a better place now than you realize. This man is a serious controller of himself (understandable regarding his limited free time) BUT, he extends that behaviour to a “girlfriend” without explanation,
He chose you without any previous hints of interest, he swept you into his desires and needs, then shut you out the minute you crossed a line that you hadn’t known existed.
It wouldn’t have lasted no matter what you did or didn’t do. His emotional availability for anything but his sons and work is too limited for you to accept.
Be polite at work, do not look for more from him. You did nothing wrong.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding whether tough love is ever a good approach:
“Our tough love worked because we provided food, shelter, love and support… but we kept him isolated and took all of his money (but didn’t keep it.)
“We just didn't let him have enough of it to do any damage and later returned his saved-up sum which might look like enabling to some people… but to us it looked better than jail or homelessness.
“There was one relapse and this is where the tough part came in. We had to face it. We couldn't bend or ignore it. And we made him face it too.
“This was the worst part for him - knowing that he let us down, and worse, that we knew exactly how he did it too.
“Then we made it a joke in our lives. If we were driving past the relapse place and the addict was in the car, we’d ask him if he wanted to stop and cackle at his shame. He knew we were on his side and that we loved him anyway.
“For us, tough love wasn't deserting him, but a demand for honesty, acceptance of the process and finding our strength to stand by, show support, and love him through this journey of his.”
FEEDBACK Regarding adult children being reminded to call ill relatives, etc.
Reader – “We’re mid-70s with grown kids and grandchildren within a 30-minute ride.
“We’ve always hosted the family celebrations. This year I had major surgery involving a long recovery.
“Our children said they’d “take advantage of the situation” and all went on a winter cruise. One couple called Christmas Day, the others were at the beach.
“Home now, some have arrived to exchange gifts but were surprised that the usual envelopes weren’t offered. Now what? Give them slack, or tell them off?”
Ellie – I’ve previously advised cutting some “slack” for adult children who are busy raising kids, driving them everywhere, commuting, with both working at jobs requiring constant online availability.
But, there’s a significant difference between those adult children, and others who are being selfish, uncaring, and opportunistic.
No slack is required for the latter… just acceptance of your own disappointment. Tell them so.
Tip of the day:
When a relationship’s controlled to suit only the other person, it’s already doomed. Move on.