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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » "You didn't love me."

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Author Topic: "You didn't love me."
When Your Mind's Made Up
Activist
Member # 50154

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Hey guys (of all genders),

It's me again. I've come to this board to get myself upright emotionally quite a few times now, and every time it's involved the same young lady, who was my wife, and who is now, after about a year of waiting and filing papers, officially my ex-wife.

We're currently not talking, because we make each other so very angry. The last time we talked, it was over the phone, and she made a few statements that bothered the hell out of me. She said, matter-of-factly and repeatedly, that I didn't love her. (This was news to me, and I didn't take it well). She's dating a new person now (a woman, in fact. I'm a man. Part of the messy story of our relationship is that she identifies as a lesbian now).

She seems ridiculously happy with this person, but she told me that dating her really lights up the contrast between how I treated her and how her current girlfriend treats her. And that's how she came to the conclusion that I didn't love her, but that her current girlfriend does.

That hurts for me to hear, especially because I suspect there's some truth to it. What I'm looking to get from you all is a more nuanced understanding of how that could be the case. I feel like Kate's love for me was more giving than my love for her was. I enjoyed her company, I loved our physical, sexual relationship (even though sometimes it sucked), but I definitely was less proactive in showing my love than she was. She would take care of me like nobody has since my mom. When I was at a new school and I got the chance to be in a play, she saw that I was excited about the idea and committed herself to supporting me, rearranging her schedule. I... didn't really do these kinds of things for her.

The best way I've figured out how to articulate how I felt about her is that I loved being loved by her. But when it was my turn to take care of her when she needed it, she was super dissatisfied with the outcome. She would say she wished she had someone to take care of her like she takes care of other people.

The other thing that's important is that for me, she functioned as a kind of security blanket. Because she thought highly of me (at first), I felt like a lovable, decent person. In some profound way, I felt safe. I look at that cluster of feelings, and it's hard not to call that love, but I realize it's a pretty dysfunctional strain of love, that I probably shouldn't depend so much on another person for self-acceptance.

Your thoughts, please. And if you have a definition of love that you find really useful, that might help me figure this stuff out too.

Posts: 81 | From: Houston, Texas | Registered: Nov 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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So sorry this got overlooked!

You know, I remember that a while back one of the things we talked about was how you felt you were raised in terms of gender roles. I recall you saying that you were raised with some pretty sexist roles.

I wonder if you think/feel that some of that included the idea that when it comes to love, men take instead of give, or, to put a finer point on it, allow and accept love and support more than putting it out more reciprocally.

It might also help to take a look at this before we dig deeper: Love Letter

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
When Your Mind's Made Up
Activist
Member # 50154

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Hello, Heather. Thanks for the response; here's mine, eleven days later.

I read your piece on love, and I came away from it thinking "there's no way that I didn't love her." It got really ugly, and there were times when each of us absolutely hated the other, and she gave much more than I did, but the intensity of what I felt was real. Although, when she first demanded a separation, she said that I was emotionally abusive, and that piece of yours is also careful to mention that a person who is abusing someone can't also love them. She certainly felt at the time of our last conversation that she's being loved now, by her current partner, and it's something new and different from what she had with me, meaning, I didn't love her.

Geez. It's just a fracking word. I know what my feelings for her were. They were a cocktail of need and mother-son dependence and anger and warmth and familiarity. She often wanted out, wished she could be in a relationship that gave her more than her relationship with me did, but I never wanted out. Being with Kate felt like home.

To answer your question about gender roles, I don't know how much I internalized the idea that men receive but don't put out love reciprocally, but that's certainly how I acted, and she acted like an actively loving wife. She was very much a caretaker. Actually she was a much more competent adult than me, in more ways than one. Like paying bills, making plans and then pulling them off -- she was the engine, and much of the time I was just along for the ride.

So I think she was more mature, more grown up, and in turn she had a larger capacity for love than I did. I think I loved her as much as I was capable of doing, but I had problems even loving myself. That was one of the things about her that most attracted me to her; early on in our relationship she told me "I see good in you," and that was enough. I wasn't seeing that good in myself, but she did, and it felt great. I got a fundamental sense of self-validation from her -- I realize now that I can't go looking for other people (and especially not new romantic partners) to tell me that I'm an OK and lovable person.

[ 05-21-2012, 02:25 PM: Message edited by: When Your Mind's Made Up ]

Posts: 81 | From: Houston, Texas | Registered: Nov 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You know, I think it is so important --

LIKE, REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT

-- that we always recognize that all any of us can do at a given time is the best we can do at a given time, and none of us are capable of doing something, or being a given way, that's just past where we are at yet.

In other words, chances are awfully good that both of you -- not just you, but her, too, and anyone else, and me, etc. -- will get better and better at loving and being loved over time through your life with more opportunity, more practice, more personal growth. None of us are love savants, where we somehow can do it all right right at the gate and without growth and practice.

I also think, while we're talking about gender, that it's actually really important for people raised as women in relationships with people raised as men to recognize that more times than not, women are raised very schooled in the behaviours of caretaking and even self-sacrifice, much more so than most men. Those things may or may not be about love, but they certainly tick more boxes in what's recognized as love, so it's easy for women to seem like we're doing it better, even if we're really not.

Know what I mean? (And that might also be worth bearing in mind now that your partner is with another woman. Especially when it's all still very new.)

And of course, how well we can love others always is contained by the glass ceiling of how well we can and do love yourselves. If we don't love us very much, then we're only going to be able to accept love and love back so much.

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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