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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:37 am 
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Congrats, Fizz!

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:15 am 
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Congrats fizzzzzzgig! I hope the awesome communication this thread sparked continues, and wish y'all the best of the best!

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:15 pm 
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We bought an "orange" pumpkin a couple of days ago at EkoPlaza. Its Dutch name is "pompoen oranje" ("orange" = Hokkaido pumpkin, I think, as opposed to the blue and green and other skinned pumpkins which are also on sale here). It had a label, which I forgot about until Christmas. I found it, and stuck it to NatureBoy's pant leg, but he didn't notice. I forgot about it, and discovered it later when we were kissing. I said, "Hey! Je bent een pompoen!" ("Hey! You're a pumpkin!") which reminded me that it's sometimes a loving nickname in English. Since we'd been talking about all my funny names for my dad (dad, dadio, tata, tatasha, tatusiu, tatuszek, taszuniu, etc.) I started playing with silly names for him, and settled on "pompoeniu" (pom-poon-nyew), and moved the label to his heart, zipped his jacket, sent him to coffee at a friend's house, and forgot about it. Later, that night, more kissing (yay!) and I rediscovered his label: My secret pompoeniu! My darling pompuszek! My sweetest pompoenek! Etc., etc. We laughed so hard. He laughed in a very cute way. And now I have endless entertained from his new nicknames. YAY.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:30 pm 
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Could you two BE any cuter?

So happy to hear you happy!

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:35 pm 
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aw, Lutin, that is adorable!

Our communication has been much improved. For instance, we were supposed to go to the movies on Wednesday night with one of his friends, but then we were having a lot of fun (the three of us) just hanging out, so we didn't go to the movies. But then S said, after his friend left, that he knows I was excited to go out, so he will take me out this weekend. So tonight we're going to dinner and maybe a movie after. I feel like he heard what I've been saying about how a change of plans can be disappointing, and he did something to recognize that without me saying anything. In the same breath, I know he doesn't like the seats at the theater we were talking about going to, so I had told him that it was okay if we didn't go. I think we are getting the hang of this whole talking it out thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Could you go to a different theatre with better seats? Then you could both be happy with movie plans!

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:25 pm 
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I think if we go to a movie tonight we'll go to the fancy one with comfy seats. S is a Big Dude so he feels cramped in the really cool old theatre by us. I am excited to go out though!

Also, he got us a vacuum for Christmas and then vacuumed our place after putting it together. Awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:49 pm 
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Lutin and Nature Boy are the cutest ever.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:04 pm 
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monkeytoes wrote:
Lutin and Nature Boy are the cutest ever.


Totes.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:43 am 
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I've just skimmed over a few pages of this thread, feeling a bit voyeuristic since I don't know y'all very well, but I hope it's not weird that I'm also a bit inspired. I can feel my own relationship going through some changes lately and it's heartening to know there are others out there facing challenges together and finding solutions as a team.

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years, and lately we have been discussing the idea of having him move into my house. (I've lived in the same house, with roommates, for 5 years.) This wouldn't happen for several months if at all, but already I'm having anxiety.

It all leads back to the fact that, at least on paper, he has made very little progress in life since I've met him. For most of the time I've known him he has been unemployed, living with his parents, and receiving unemployment checks. There are some sad stories behind these circumstances, but he tries to make the best of it, helping his parents with household projects and doing various odd jobs for money. However he has made almost no effort towards finding steady employment, and in fact believes himself to be unhireable. In reality he is a good employee but has had terrible luck with losing jobs, and he has no college degree, so his resume doesn't inspire too much confidence.

He's a tremendously skilled person but he has little self-confidence and no momentum. His lack of income has already begun to affect my decisions in life - for instance, I'd like to travel more, but if he can't afford it, I don't feel right leaving him behind. He understands he will need a job in order to move in here, but there seems to be a cognitive disconnect keeping him from actually looking for work. I've been trying to coach him as best I can, with unconditional love and patience, but I'm starting to wonder if that's going to be enough.

I love this fellow, he's definitely someone I can picture being with in the long long term, except for this problem which is obviously a pretty huge deal! I don't care about wealth or status, and I'm not terribly rich or successful myself. I just want us to feel like equals. And while I'm working 2 jobs and pursuing various creative projects in my free time, he seems to spend most of his time reading and playing computer games. I don't judge him for that - we've had very different lives, and in some ways I've been more privileged. But sometimes it can really frustrate me, and I do get resentful in spite of myself.

We do talk about this stuff, but he always just agrees with everything I say, apologizes for himself, and then spends the rest of the week working on one of his career ideas... but he inevitably becomes discouraged by something and slides back into the old routines. How can I address this problem more seriously? Must I resort to harsh ultimatums? That's really not my style, but I wonder if it's what he needs.

I'd really love to hear from anyone else who's dealt with a situation like this. Sometimes, I have to admit, it feels kinda hopeless. But because I'm so happy in this relationship in so many ways, it feels well worth whatever struggle needs to happen for us to move forward.

Gosh, I didn't know I would get so long-winded, kudos to anyone who read the whole thing and much thanks for any spare thoughts you might have!


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:08 am 
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I haven't really been in that situation, corduroy, just wanted to offer some sympathy. I think it's great that you can talk about these things, even if it feels like it's not going anywhere. Does your boyfriend talk to anyone else about it? Sometimes it helps to get another perspective, if there is someone he's comfortable enough with.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:17 am 
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Thanks amonik! He talks to his mom about things sometimes, and she's great but I don't think she's got much perspective on it either. He doesn't really have any close friends. I would urge him to see a counselor if only he could afford it... I wish it didn't all have to come back to money!


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:55 am 
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Can he make any of his odd jobs into an actual job? Like, become a self-employed dog walker or gardener or something? He doesn't have to feel unemployable if he's self-employed. Or if he likes spending time on the computer, I'm not sure what your creative projects involve, but would you be able to get him to help you sell them on etsy or somewhere and take a cut of the payment since it does take a surprisingly long time to take photos, write descriptions, etc. but maybe once he got started with money-making schemes it might help build up momentum for him to continue under his own steam?

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:50 am 
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My boyfriend is sort of the same. He's a musician and his band has great success, but they don't make nearly enough to make ends meet right now, and it's far from a full time job: sometimes he's away for 3-4 days a week, other times he's just working on random other projects/playing gameboy/sleeping in. I have been (and sometimes still are) very worried about our financial future - for example, if we decide to have kids, we have a great parental leave system where the parents get 52 weeks with 80% of their salary paid to share between the dad and the mom. But this means you have to have actual employment, and he doesn't, and he probably won't in any foreseeable future. Which means that he will not be able to get any paid leave, and I will have to stay home with this (very hypothetical) child all by myself, something I have never ever wanted to do. I've always wanted to share the responsibility for a child 50/50 with the other parent if I was to get a child. But that is basically impossible if he doesn't get employment. Besides, I am pretty sure that he wouldn't be able to take time off during tours anyway. So that leaves us in a pretty impossible situation. Luckily it's very hypothetical and not something that would happen any time soon at all, even if it was to happen.

I totally get you on the traveling, though. Since I met my boyfriend, I've traveled to Berlin and Paris and this year I've planned to go to Berlin, Paris, Nice and Northern England. He's not included in any of those plans, because he can't afford to travel as things are right now. Hopefully his band will earn a lot more this year than last year,though.. But you never know. And it's frustrating. But I've found that the best way to not get bitter about it is traveling on your own or with other people - it's not about leaving your partner behind, it's about doing what you want because you deserve to have fun and you can't always let other people's life situations stop you. Especially not if it makes it hard for you to stay in the relationship. I really like traveling with my friends and have a lot of fun with them on our trips, and while I'd love to travel with my partner, for now it's just not going to happen.

I guess it's all about finding that perfect balance between pushing your partner to do something that will make them happier and that way making your relationship better, and respecting their boundaries. I can totally understand why it feels unequal to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't earn money enough to participate in travels etc., especially if they are not working on getting to a more stable financial place. But while the money thing can be really annoying and bad, for me the most important thing is that my partner gets up in the morning and DOES things, has things to tell me when I get home, has passions and dreams.. Otherwise it would be impossible for me to be with them. I respect that everyone is different, but for me it's the most important traits: passions, dreams, the willingness to work hard and the inspiration. If it's not there, it can't really be fixed for me.

Obviously it is different if the other person is super depressed or has mental illnesses or something like that, but it is also totally okay to not be able to be in that with them. It is awesome to be there for the people you love when they need you, but if nothing changes, it is also okay to withdraw to take care of yourself. I know I probably couldn't deal with being with someone with depression. Not because they're not worthy of love or respect, but because for me it wouldn't be healthy.

I guess all in all it's about finding out what you NEED vs. what you WANT. And then you need to communicate with your partner about that in order to find out if you have enough common ground that it makes sense to be together.


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 4:45 pm 
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dropscone wrote:
Can he make any of his odd jobs into an actual job? Like, become a self-employed dog walker or gardener or something? He doesn't have to feel unemployable if he's self-employed. Or if he likes spending time on the computer, I'm not sure what your creative projects involve, but would you be able to get him to help you sell them on etsy or somewhere and take a cut of the payment since it does take a surprisingly long time to take photos, write descriptions, etc. but maybe once he got started with money-making schemes it might help build up momentum for him to continue under his own steam?

He's a skilled craftsman and actually built his own etsy shop awhile back, but he's never had any sales, and he's not enthusiastic about making that into a career - the kind of work he does is time-consuming and uses expensive materials, so he's not likely to make much of a profit.

I've been trying to encourage him to do more teaching - he's taught music lessons before, and still volunteers with kids sometimes - but he keeps coming up with excuses why that's not a realistic option for him right now (like he doesn't have a studio space, or a car). I think he can work around those obstacles, but it seems like if the slightest thing is standing in his way he gives up. Sigh!

smoothie wrote:
...I guess all in all it's about finding out what you NEED vs. what you WANT. And then you need to communicate with your partner about that in order to find out if you have enough common ground that it makes sense to be together.

Thank you for sharing your experience smoothie, it does sound familiar in many ways. Your last sentence actually made me realize why I feel so committed to him - because I believe we DO have a lot of common ground, and it does make sense for us to be together - but that's only in theory, and not always in practice. In theory, we want the same things out of life, and we can get downright starry eyed talking about our hopes for the future (like taking trips, getting our own place, having pets). But he hardly ever takes steps toward those goals, and when he does, they are baby steps. He has a lot of legitimate reasons to feel discouraged, and I sympathize, and he seems well aware of his self-sabotaging habits but incapable of making a lasting change. The more I think about it I really think counseling could be good for him, and maybe I can talk him into it if we can find a good option for low income people...

I wish I could feel the way you do about traveling alone, smoothie! I did a fair amount of traveling on my own before meeting my boyfriend, and I loved it then. But now, I suspect I would be thinking of him and wishing he could be there with me. We have actually traveled together in the past and it was amazing, which somehow makes it sadder to think of leaving him behind. Traveling with a friend might be the answer, but unfortunately, I don't really have any close friends who can afford to travel either! Maybe I am just destined to be a lone traveler...


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:31 pm 
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How old are you guys, corduroy? I feel like a lot of these things come up during the 20s (looking at my own life and my friends) and I'm not sure it says too much about how life will be later on! People are generally broke in their 20s (and for some the 30s, 40s, 50s etc., but mostly everyone have no money during their 20s!).

It sounds like some counseling/therapy would be a good option if he is self sabotaging. I can totally relate though; I used to self sabotage a lot when I was a bit younger because I was so scared that if I actually did something wholehearted I'd fail and it would hurt a lot more than just not trying to begin with. Which is obviously completely irrational, but also a very very very common mechanism when you haven't grown up in a completely stable environment.
People who've grown up without having a solid base or with a lot of traumas have a different "brain chemistry wiring" - it means that it's easier to get into either a stress-mode or a dissociative state, manifesting itself in the brain releasing hormones that either makes it incredibly hard to stay focused and makes you very anxious and hyper aware, or makes it hard to deal with situations because your brain is basically doing the opposite; making you withdraw your attention because it seems like a dangerous situation that it's better to deflect from. (Obviously I'm not a trained psychologist or psychiatrist, and brain chemistry and psychiatry is a lot more complicated than this, but I find that it explains pretty well how the brain works when you have had a rough childhood).
There are a lot of ways to deal with these things though. Therapy is definitely not a bad thing if life is hard to deal with, or if old traumas makes it hard to deal with everyday life and what is expected from you. I had intensive therapy for 3,5 years before I started to function well (but I also had a lot of really intense problems and basically wasn't functional), but I've been amazed with what a good therapist and good support from my partner, friends and family can do. The human is a very complex and adaptable creature and most learned patterns can change, so I would definitely recommend looking into it if he's up for it. Even if it's nothing too big, it can't hurt getting help to change bad patterns :)


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:23 pm 
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We're both almost 30, which probably plays into this becoming a larger and larger problem for me - it seems pretty normal to be broke and living at home when you're in your 20s, but beyond 30 it seems more worrisome, like that's never going to change. I have 2 jobs and a fairly stable housing situation, and even then I don't feel "mature" enough to turn 30.

Neither of us had a lot of childhood trauma, but his family's been through some hard luck financially and almost lost their home last year. My family on the other hand has been comfortably middle-class for my entire life, and they have helped me out quite a bit financially, for which I feel both grateful and a little guilty. They don't pay my rent or anything, but they take me out to dinner and buy me groceries a lot, always on their insistence. Meanwhile my boyfriend has actually had to loan his parents money for basic household expenses. It makes me really sad, and I can see how he wouldn't be inspired to work very hard at anything if he imagines ending up in the same situation as his parents (who both work).

However, I think anxiety is factor here too, and his anxiety is painting over every possible solution with fear and pessimism. I can relate because my brain often does the very same thing! I have actually been in and out of therapy for anxiety & depression for much of my life so I see myself in him a lot of the time, and in a way that just makes it harder for me to deal with. I've been pretty stable for a few years now, but now I'm beginning to worry that living with him might bring out my anxiety more. All the more reason to talk about counseling, of course...


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:06 pm 
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I think counseling sounds like a great idea. Therapy for anxiety made a huge difference in my life and I really like how smoothie explains the challenges of growing up with an unstable childhood.

That said, for your own wellbeing, I would see if I could get some counseling for myself as well - just to make sure that you're doing the best thing for yourself in all of this, and not taking over too much responsibility for your partner. You talk a lot about how you feel privileged and guilty that you have more than he does, and you make yourself wrong for feeling frustrated and resentful of the dynamic in your relationship, and you posted how you think the relationship could be great if you could only get past this struggle. But the thing is that it isn't your struggle - its his. You can love him and be there for him, but you can't be his coach or his therapist to fix him. And I don't think its just about the money, its sounds like its really just wanting to be with someone who is actively able to participate in building a happy life together, past more than just getting starry-eyed about your dreams of a future.

I'd take a step back and look at what I really wanted from a long term relationship and whether you could have a partnership of equals with your partner if nothing changed.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:31 pm 
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I think if you will be unhappy if nothing changes, you need to take a long look at what your needs are. If he moves into your home, I would expect nothing to change for him. Would that make you even more unhappy and perhaps resentful?

From reading your posts here, it seems that you are not doing the things that you want to do because of him. I think Smoothie's idea to travel alone is a great one. Don't let his inertia stop you from doing that you want.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:14 pm 
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I have been waffling with the idea of ending things with my dude. It isn't a serious relationship, and I really don't see it going that route ever- we're very different in out attitudes towards living. I just haven't had the heart to end things. I like him just fine, and he's so sweet and kind. There's just no spark for me. How on earth can I break up with someone nice and sweet just for that? I know I should and would be happier doing so, it's just accepting that realization. Mostly I've been cooling us off- hanging out less and the like. But I'm bored and over trying to make a relationship out of very little in common.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:22 pm 
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It sounds like it's basically a done deal and you just need to find a way to tell him, missdelaney!


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:02 am 
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smoothie wrote:
It sounds like it's basically a done deal and you just need to find a way to tell him, missdelaney!

Yes, reading your post it sounds like you've already made the decision.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:52 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I think counseling sounds like a great idea. Therapy for anxiety made a huge difference in my life and I really like how smoothie explains the challenges of growing up with an unstable childhood.

That said, for your own wellbeing, I would see if I could get some counseling for myself as well - just to make sure that you're doing the best thing for yourself in all of this, and not taking over too much responsibility for your partner. You talk a lot about how you feel privileged and guilty that you have more than he does, and you make yourself wrong for feeling frustrated and resentful of the dynamic in your relationship, and you posted how you think the relationship could be great if you could only get past this struggle. But the thing is that it isn't your struggle - its his. You can love him and be there for him, but you can't be his coach or his therapist to fix him. And I don't think its just about the money, its sounds like its really just wanting to be with someone who is actively able to participate in building a happy life together, past more than just getting starry-eyed about your dreams of a future.

I'd take a step back and look at what I really wanted from a long term relationship and whether you could have a partnership of equals with your partner if nothing changed.

I think you make a lot of excellent points here, Tofulish. You're right, I think I have been making his problems into my problems. We are so involved at this point that it's hard to tell the difference sometimes, but I need to set better boundaries for myself, especially if we are ever going to live together. (I've already told him I could not share a bedroom with him because I need my own space, and luckily he feels the same way.)

We had a long talk last night, and it went pretty well I think. He agrees that counseling could be helpful, and he seemed open to exploring the options, though he's a little apprehensive about the cost and, I suspect, the implication that his behavior/thinking is pathological. But he responded well when I called him on some pretty self-sabotaging statements (such as "I'm sorry I'm such a letdown" and "I wish I was the kind of person who could finish things"). We ended the discussion by focusing on the things he HAS accomplished in the past, and the awesome things we've done together, and that helped us both feel more hopeful. We had sorta planned on spending the day together today, but instead I'm giving him some space so he can work on some projects he's been neglecting, and giving myself some time to decompress. I'm also looking into low-cost counseling, and there seem to be more resources now than there were when I last checked a few years ago, which is promising.

Thanks again to everyone who's shared their thoughts. I'm fortunate to have some good friends and family that I can talk with about serious stuff but even then I don't always feel comfortable doing so. I know that's why counselors exist, but internet strangers can also work nicely in a pinch. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:12 pm 
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Yeah, I did it today. My decision was definitely cemented when he didn't even argue against it. He was just silent when I asked what he thought about our relationship and where it was headed. I tried to make it productive, an inclusive opportunity to talk about maybe what we want and how to get there, but he literally didn't say a word. I want someone who, at the very least, can answer that and have a discussion about the relationship.
It's too bad, cause I really did enjoy his company. He just isn't the significant other I need.

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 Post subject: Re: Relationship advice, decisions, smiles or tears
PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:34 pm 
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Plays The Sims 2 religiously
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:20 pm
Posts: 7463
Location: Portland, OR
Just in case y'all are wondering, my Unicorn and I are still whirl-wind romancing up in here. :) Yay for not fretting about like how I normally do when I date!

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