Following are questions left over from my live online chat, Unhealthy Relationships, (Sept. 25):
I’ve had some tough times in the last three years and felt no support from my live-in partner. My dad got very sick and I had to be at the hospital a lot, but my boyfriend never came with me, nor met me after my visits, to cheer me up at a restaurant or someplace.
I also got laid off and had to scramble to re-mortgage my place, which is where he’s living too (he pays bills, but not the mortgage).
It took some time to find contract work, but he never offered to pay for more while I was unemployed, which he could easily have afforded.
I don’t feel this is something I should overlook.
He’s let you down – emotionally, and financially. He’s maybe by nature a cold person, which you would’ve known before this, but now you felt the distancing effects personally.
OR, he has a different view of what a relationship means, from yours.
You need The Talk – is he with you, or not, in this relationship? Before he answers, state that you want, and presumably are yourself, a committed, nourishing partner.
Be wary of any “excuses” he offers for his lack of support, if they’re all about him… it means he’s basically self-absorbed, and will let you down again.
My best friend says I’m taking my girlfriend for granted and that I’ll lose her that way, which I don’t want.
I don’t know if that’s true… she’s a very giving woman, and always wants to do things for me, so I let her.
Besides packing a lunch for me every morning, she picks up my laundered shirts after her work, spends evenings when I’m busy re-organizing my files or cleaning out my workspace, and she even takes my car in to be fixed.
She says she’s happy to do all this and I’m sure she’s happy, so why should I think this is a problem?
If you didn’t actually “hire” her for all these tasks, you’re exploiting her “giving” nature.
By taking advantage – instead of protesting that she needn’t be your keeper - you’ve become co-dependents – you as Semi-Innocent User, her as Super-Pleaser. It’s NOT healthy…. unless you’re providing equal giving to her.
Note: Sex and money as sole partner contributions don’t count. Sex is for mutual satisfaction, and money/gifts are meant as shared benefits in a relationship.
Think about what defines her as “girlfriend,” whom you want to stay in your life. Then give her equality, respect, and love for herself.
I’m wondering about my relationship of seven years. We seem to be totally dependent on one another. If I’m moody, he gets moody too. If I want to walk, he must walk with me. We never go out with our old friends, just stick together. We watch a lot of TV at night.
I feel like I’m isolated from everything else… my old friends, things going in town, etc.
Constant dependency on another limits each of your lives. Both of you need your own friends, interests, times and areas of privacy.
Isolation is also neither safe nor wise. You need outside contact. Get back in touch with people. Your partner can see them with you sometimes, but you need time alone either visiting or communicating with others.
If no one’s close enough, join a walking group, workshop, a course on some interest, or volunteer… and start making even one or two friends.
My parents have been married for 35 years. They love each other dearly, yet bicker constantly. Sometimes my mom gets fed up and says “Stop!” in a harsh voice, and then she shuts down for awhile.
Dad just laughs and keeps teasing her; he doesn’t get how annoyed she really is. They weren’t perfect parents but they are good, decent people.
Is bickering a natural part of getting older and being together so long?
Bickering – constant nattering and nit-picking - does seem to be an easy default communication for people when they’re irritable and tired, which happens more with aging.
But there has to be boundaries on the tone and persistence of petty, argumentative chatter, or one person’s bickering can become bullying.
Explain gently that it’s tiresome to be around “The Bickersons.” They want your company and interest in them, so that could be an incentive to try to do it less.
Tip of the day:
Healthy relationships provide support for a partner when needed, and allow for both persons’ equality and independence.