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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » am i just being selfish?

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Author Topic: am i just being selfish?
fallchild
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I come from a family where the women are meant to "please." Fortunately my mom broke this cycle and finally divorced my dad, but I think that attitude has still been ingrained in me and that's why I'm feeling slightly guilty while writing this.

In a nutshell? I'm not feeling entirely happy in my current relationship. I'm feeling like I'm constantly putting myself out there, being available when I'm needed, making an effort, etc., and not really getting anything in return. That sounds kinda vague so I'll elaborate a bit.

I've been trying to get my current boyfriend to meet my family for months now. Every time he's turned me down it was with a statement like, "I'm too nervous" or "Your family probably won't think I'm a good person" or "I have homework to do" (which COULD be viable, except for the fact that we hung out later that day. Apparently he had homework only long enough to miss dinner with my family), etc. What bugs me is that his parents are flying in this weekend and he is expecting me to meet them. How that seems fair to him is beyond me.

I feel like since I'm in a relationship it's my responsibility to be available when I'm needed. For example, the other night after I got out of my photography class at ten at night, I got a text that said "I'm feeling like I'm going to have a panic attack. I need you to come over and be with me." I was dead tired because I'd been in class all day, but since I knew I would want him to be there for me if I was feeling like that I told him I'd come over as soon as I could, and I did. However, a couple weeks later I was feeling on edge too, and texted him to ask for some company. I wasn't that dramatic about it, all I said was "Hey it would make me feel a lot better to see you. Would you like to hang out?" He never gave me an answer. I finally gave up and went to bed.

I guess I'm just feeling......shortchanged? See, and that's where I start to feel bad. I feel like I'm being the needy, clingy girlfriend who really needs to just suck it up and give the poor guy a break because I know he's just as busy as me (we go to the same uni). Out of all the things he's doing that bugs me, how do I know which of them would be fair, mature, and understanding of me to address?

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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If he's just as busy as you, then it isn't logical or sensible to suggest that you should feel guilty for not being way more available to him than he is to you.

As well, are you a parent? No? Then he needs to treat you like a partner, not a parent, and you need to keep that boundary. You're also not his therapist, and he needs more than one person as his support system. Because he was having a panic attack does not mean YOU -- and only you -- needed to go over there.

I'm absolutely hearing big inequities here. And if this is the same guy with the addiction issues, you've already gone way over your share with being supportive and engaged as it is.

Here's what I'd suggest.

a) Make clear that until you two set a date with your parents for him to meet them, you're not going to do the same for him. Period. If he's not ready to do that, then clearly it's not time for either of you to meet the folks. If he's told his folks to expect meeting you and won't make this deal, then he can be a big boy and explain to his parents why they aren't meeting you, and that that's because of his own stuff.

b) Talk about that situation with the panic attack and the inequity in it. He's no more a "poor guy" than you. Make clear that you need things to be more balanced and fair, and again, make that non-negotiable.

In a word, everything you have said here needs to be discussed, and things need to change if you're going to have a relationship between partners and equals that's really about the needs of both of you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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I'm sorry, I should've been more clear about the family thing. He's met my parents already (very briefly), but hasn't met my five younger siblings. Basically I'm dealing with my mom and step-dad saying, "Okay, so you've been dating this boy for how long and he hasn't had the guts to spend time with this family WHY??" They are borderline offended, especially my step-dad. I KNOW why my guy won't come see my family, it's because he knows my mom knows about his addiction (yeah Heather, same guy) and he's freaked out or embarrassed or something. I've tried to tell him many many times that as long as he's getting help for it, my parents will not think any less of him. What's ironic is that they ARE thinking less of him the longer he goes without meeting everyone.

Today, I texted him and told him that my brothers were all going to be at my parents house this weekend and that he was welcome to come down with me and meet them. He acknowledged he got the text, but didn't give me a straight answer and I know he'll CONTINUE to evade the question until I finally just head down without him.

I think my guy is worried that my parents will only see him as a drug addict. My reasoning is, how can they see him as being anything different if he refuses to actually spend time with them? I think I'm going to confront him about this today, but I know it's only going to turn into him attacking me about telling my mom about his addiction.

Even though he's already met my parents and I'm just wanting him to meet the rest of my family, is that still fair grounds to refuse to meet his parents?

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I have to say, I'm kind of hearing you making excuses for him here.

It's past time for this guy to just grow up and step up here, IMO. He also is going to need to put some faith in you when you're extending it. Lastly, all this evasiveness is just... it seems like blowing off personal responsibility to me. if he is just not going to go, he needs to pay you the minute respect of just telling you that no, he's got no intention of spending time with your family. And if that's the case, I'd say it'd be smart for you to slow the whole thing down and hold off on meeting his folks, too. If he's just not there yet on his end, you need to wait until (if) he is before you go to that point for him.

So, yes, were it me, I'd still hold off. You meet someone's family, you're deeper in a relationship. I think it only makes sense to stay in the shallow end of the energy-investment pool if the other person isn't yet able or willing to swim any deeper than that on their end.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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Well we talked about it, and I pretty much caved. I told him that unless he took the time to meet my family like he was expecting me to do this week, I didn't feel obligated to meet his parents because I want everything to be equal. Well, he did exactly what I thought he would do, which is say that he couldn't believe I told my mom about his addiction because it was a personal thing, and that it's not like he would ever tell his parents that I used to be a cutter. I basically started panicking because I was worried he was mad at me and would end things, so I told him that I would go to dinner with his parents as long as he promised to meet my family when he was ready. And then I basically apologized for bringing it all up. It's so weird, I'm a little disgusted with myself right now, but the anxiety of having displeased this person is overriding every ounce of logic in my head.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

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Heather
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Sounds to me like you're getting emotionally manipulated by someone who knows what works. You're disgusted with you right now, but this isn't just about you. You just got played like a fiddle, and the person presenting things the way he does to get what he wants is hardly innocent in this.

Honestly, fallchild, if you know that your weakness is caving in to what someone else wants, and not asserting yourself, it's really double-trouble to be with someone who, when recognizing that, capiltalizes on it rather than doing what they can not to do that. And I'm sorry, but addicts (I think I brought this up in our other conversation) are often brilliant at this.

So, I'm going to just suggest again considering if this really is a healthy relationship for you, and one likely to benefit you. I'd also think about why, in a relationship that thus far, seems to be way more about someone else than you, it feels so scary not to have it. Just think about it.

[ 10-11-2008, 08:34 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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Well, I've definately gotten to a breaking point. On Saturday my boyfriend succeeded in making me feel so worthless that I self-mutilated. I feel like nothing I do is ever good enough for him. In the past I've agreed to meet his parents while he continues to blow mine off and tells me I'm nagging him when I keep inviting him over. I feel like I'm constantly giving, constantly trying my very best, constantly trying to give more than my share, and getting nothing back. I feel like I have to beg and plead for his attention while he receives unconditional affection from me. I have to defend myself constantly: he's always saying he feels "weird" that I'm bisexual ("It means I have to worry about EVERYONE instead of just guys") and that I'm friends with my ex, even though both of those things are old news to him. He checks up on me. I have to make excuses for him. He says he has nightmares that I'm cheating on him. He talks down to me. He makes me feel so unloved, ugly, worthless, stupid, and unwanted that I'm beginning to doubt my own self-worth and self-esteem big time. I'm f****** done. Very very soon I'm going to sit him down and tell him that everything in our relationship feels completely inbalanced. I feel like I'm his girlfriend only when HE needs me to be, and that he's a boyfriend to me only when it's convenient or easy for him. It's my way or the highway at this point. I've gone through enough emotional abuse from this current boyfriend and my ex, and before that from my father. I don't deserve this.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

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Heather
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Gal, I'm just going to say it because I feel like someone has to keep saying it: I don't think it's time to have another talk with this guy.

I think it's time to act in your own best interest and get gone. Something like this is not going to go from utter crap to wonderful: it's just not. It might go from utter crap to kind of crappy, or utter crap sometimes to okay others, but honestly, look at what you've written here, look at the history of this. Look clearly.

You're right, you deserve better. But you have to insist on that for yourself, which means not staying in stuff like this, but getting out.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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So, we broke up. And I feel.....amazing. Honestly? The best way I can feel after this whole negative experience is I feel like I've been sick for a long time and I've finally vomited. He finally came out and told me that it bothers him that I'm friends with my ex (even though I told him I was planning on moving out after the lease is up) and that it really bothers him that I'm bisexual. I tried to tell him that I don't understand how my attraction to women is more threatening then say, my attraction to men, or HIS attraction to women. The whole thing was just stressful and negative. And now it's over. *Insert sigh of relief here*

Is there a way I could avoid a situation like this in the future? Besides the obvious getting out of it sooner [Razz]

[ 10-21-2008, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: fallchild ]

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I won't lie and say I'm not tremendously relieved.

And really freaking proud of you. I've been thinking about you, hoping you were doing okay. I'm so, so glad to hear this, and so glad you feel good about it.

My best advice? Take a good deal of time off from any romantic relationships for a while, for starters. Not days, not weeks, but months or longer. This guy sapped a lot of your energy and time: you need to regroup, and probably touch base with all the other people in your life. You also need time to get some perspective and get back to your own center.

I'd also set a self-limit that from here on out, even with dating, no more rescues for you. In other words, if you're going to walk into something with someone, they need to have their you-know-what seriously together BEFORE you're in the picture. Don't you deserve a partner who can take care of themselves from the get-go at least as well as you can? I think so.

I'm also going to vote for really minding what friends and other loved ones say their impression of a potential partner is. Really, it's a big deal.

Another tip I can add is that I think it's helpful to be on the lookout for potential partners who seem to kind of put your weaknesses at play, rather than your strengths. In other words, you've said you default to pleasing and putting yourself second, and seem to have (twice, I think?) wound up with folks who exploit that. So, flip that script: look for people who challenge you to make your strong points stronger in a positive way -- by their appreciation of those qualities -- rather than who seem to get you stuck in your weaknesses or areas you have trouble with.

There's a lot more, but mostly? For right now, focus on something else, everything else, besides romance. You've been off-duty from...well, your life, for a good time: get caught up.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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I feel great about this break-up, I really do. But like you said (so eloquently by the way, i got a little choked up), this "relationship" took SO much out of me. I feel pretty broken and messed up right now, which doesn't really illustrate how deeply I was affected by this, but I don't have words to describe it. I just can't really remember a time when he actually "made my strong points stronger in a positive way." It was always more off just him telling me he was uncomfortable with something I couldn't fix or it was unfair to ask me to fix. I lost a lot of myself in this relationship. My family and friends all HATED him, and when they all found out we had broken up they were all so happy. It makes me sad that this happened to me even after all the bullcrap I went through with my ex and it's hard not to blame myself for all the negativity that happened.

I am definately going to take a break from the whole relationship world. Maybe I might date a little, but no relationships for a long long time.

I'm going to make friends, I've decided. I have a new friend that I just got home from hanging out with and she's awesome. I'm just going to hang out with my ex/roommate now (guilt free), my family, and my new friend. Next weekend I'm taking a trip with my parents, which will be awesome.

The way I feel now is exactly how I feel after getting over like a really crappy cold. The house is a mess, nothing feels homey or right, I don't feel like myself, etc. I feel like I'm cleaning everything up.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

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Heather
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Fallchild, if I could hug you, I would.

Blaming yourself is nonproductive: even if this was all your fault (and it certainly isn't), it's in the past. It's over and behind you.

It's great you have a new friend, great your first goal is to go make some new ones. Great you get to take a trip: air your brain out some.

My hat's off to you, gal.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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Ugh, I saw him today for the first time since we broke up and I basically freaked out. I was walking along the sidewalk to my sculpture class schlepping this heavy sculpture, and bam, I saw him walking to his job in another building. He didn't see me, but I instantly got this wave of nausea. I made it to my sculpture class before I started hyperventilating and shaking really bad. Then I started crying. Luckily, hardly anyone had gotten to class yet because I got there early. Sigh. I'm not expecting any "advice" on this, but I just wanted to get it off my chest. I hate seeing him at school. It's not that he's stalking me or anything, in fact, we haven't talked at all since it happened. But I can't really explain the feeling of unease I get. I feel really jumpy when I'm at school because I'm terrified of actually running into him face to face. I'm pretty sure the fear is irrational, but he just said so many really hurtful things to me and has the ability to get really upset that the thought of seeing him makes me really nervous.

Anyway, pretty much made me a jumpy wreck for the rest of today.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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