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Need advice for differing opinions

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  • #403723
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hello Miss Anita,

    I have a bittersweet update! I received a call from him and we talked for over an hour and here are some clarifications he made: he would save the mother if there were too many complications (especially if the child wouldn’t have a good quality of life), he would only leave someone if they terminated multiple healthy pregnancies in a row (and refused birth control options multiple times beforehand), and he doesn’t remember saying men will need to be consoled more in this scenario. He meant to say that it’s hard to justify for a man to stay with a woman who is reckless about birth control and does not want to experience terminating multiple pregnancies.

    So, this was a big miscommunication. Looks like he’s not misogynistic after all and doesn’t think women are incubators, but simply didn’t articulate his points in a very clear way. He didn’t like that I brought up the saving baby vs. mother scenario after we had finished discussing something else that we disagreed on earlier that day (it was super minor, but fair enough). We also talked about how to engage in more “fair fighting.” I agreed to do the following: 1) focus only on what we’re talking about and not bring up the past or multiple heavy topics at once 2) “prime” him on the topic I want to discuss 3) give him time to process and space after an argument. He agreed to do the following: 1) be more validating when we disagree/not ask me to prove myself over and over 2) verbally say he’s upset/he needs time to cool off and reassure me that we will revisit the conversation instead of ignoring me 3) be more willing to reach out first and apologize first instead of leaving it up to me

    Breaking up did cross my mind but I’m glad I didn’t do anything rash or impulsive. Even though it was hard, this is a much needed talk. This was a pretty big miscommunication and you were right, he does feel like I try to teach him things. I tried to teach him today that saying “I’m sorry, but” is not a good apology and to get him to reframe it. I’ll try to not to focus on the wording and instead appreciate his attempts to apologize. Thank you so much for your patience and detailed responses today. This exchange has really helped me gain more perspective and learn what behaviors I will/won’t accept. I’m off to bed and will reflect on this some more later. I hope you have a wonderful and restful sleep!

    #403724
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Miss Pickles

    I’m glad that you both worked things out. It sounds like you had a very mature conversation after all. I am sure that your boyfriend will learn a lot about communication from you.

    The difficulty with these hypotheticals is that they can cause arguments when differences in opinion are revealed.

    I think his opinion was very honest. Statistically, after loss of a child most couples break up. So I think it’s a good sign that he gave an honest opinion instead of giving a dishonest answer thar would make you feel good. It’s a good thing that he isn’t afraid of sharing his opinions.

    It sounds like after a year together you might be thinking about the future of your relationship together? Have you considered moving in together? Obviously this is not a conversation to have right away, just wondering if you have an interest in that.

    #403730
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    You are very welcome and thank you for wishing me a wonderful and restful sleep.. amazingly I really did have a wonderful and restful sleep for the first time in a long time!

    I’ll read your recent post and comment as I do: “I received a call from him” – good thing, he called you, not the other way around.  “and we talked for over an hour“- he has the willingness and patience to talk for over an hour, another good thing, “and here are some clarifications he made… So, this was a big miscommunication. Looks like he’s not misogynistic after all“- another good thing and effective communication made it happen!

    We also talked about how to engage in more ‘fair fighting‘”-I would eliminate the word fighting in the context of an intimate relationship (and in the context of a  parent and child relationship). No fighting at all is possible. Differences of opinions and interpersonal conflicts will arise of course, but these should be addressed and resolved peacefully, not combatively/aggressively aka fighting.

    I agreed to do the following: 1) focus only on what we’re talking about and not bring up the past or multiple heavy topics at once“- makes sense. You can practice the NPR strategy to do this: Notice that you are about to brin up the past/ another topic=> Pause=> Redirect your attention back to the ongoing conversation (you may have to ask him to repeat what he was saying while your attention was elsewhere).

    … 3) give him time to process and space after an argument“- arguments go together with fighting and neither is necessary. An intimate relationship should be about calm and peace which are congruent with feeling safe, not about fighting and arguing. Simply bring up a topic in a calm, peaceful way and keep this attitude throughout.

    He agreed to do the following…  2) verbally say he’s upset/he needs time to cool off and reassure me that we will revisit the conversation instead of ignoring me“-  two of the great benefits of not arguing and not fighting is that (1) the temperature doesn’t go up that much and a person has less of a need to cool off, and (2) more safety in the relationship=> less anger=> less anger fueled-behaviors like ignoring/ withdrawing.

    3) be more willing to reach out first and apologize first instead of leaving it up to me“- prevention is key: no fighting=> no ignoring/ withdrawing=> no need to reach out first or last & no need to apologize.

    Breaking up did cross my mind but I’m glad I didn’t do anything rash or impulsive“- good thing you didn’t break up. To continue the theme of this post: when the two of you address and resolve conflicts peacefully, neither one of you is likely to behave in rash, impulsive ways.

    You were right, he does feel like I try to teach him things“- practice the NPR strategy: Notice when you are about to teach him something, Pause and Redirect your attention to… something else.

    It’s been good communicating with you, Miss Pickles, and I’ll be glad to do this again anytime you have the need.

    anita

    #404567
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Miss Pickles?

    anita

    #404775
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thank you for the check-in, I appreciate it! How are you doing? I’m okay, I was just thinking about posting here earlier today. I messaged him last night asking if he wanted to come over during the weekend and that I was excited for our one year anniversary coming up soon in a few days. It’s been 24 hours and I still haven’t heard from him. The weekend is already half over and I will be out of town tomorrow.

    We’ve discussed the cycle of withdrawing-pursuing cycle in our relationship and he’s said he needs space as he’s stressed when he withdraws. I have been doing my best to be understanding, although I’m not sure how much more space to give him. I have only texted him once this week (to spend time together) and twice last week (to spend time together and also to share how grateful I was for him, which he didn’t acknowledge). We only see each other on the weekends, so if we skip a weekend or two that means we won’t have seen each other for 2-3 weeks. We haven’t had any conflict since I posted here almost a month ago. I’ve been keeping busy and am unsure as to what to do. If he’s upset with me or something happened, I wish he would communicate that with me! I have no idea what’s going on. What would you recommend doing?

    #404777
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    You are welcome and I am glad to read back from you. I am sorry to read that he is still ignoring you.

    What would you recommend doing?“- I recommend that you break up with him because he is too selfish. You did your best with him, you communicated with him clearly, skillfully, patiently and repeatedly. You’ve been kind to him, understanding, generous, and yet, he is still as selfish as he was before.

    He is 30 and you didn’t mention that he attends counseling and/ or that he is motivated to improve his mental health, so there is no reason for me to expect that he will improve and that he will become less selfish.

    On July 10 you wrote: “Some things I’ve had to explain were to ask my day and my interests (not just talk about his), be considerate in planning (not cancel on me at the last minute multiple weekends in a row), to communicate when he’s upset (instead of ignoring me until I beg to know what happened)“, etc.- notice articulate, exact and thorough you’ve been when communicating with him.

    July 30: “We’ve discussed the cycle of withdrawing-pursuing cycle in our relationship and he’s said he needs space as he’s stressed when he withdraws. I have been doing my best to be understanding“- altogether, you communicated with him very well, at length and repeatedly and still, you messaged him last night, and 24 hours later, he still didn’t message you back.

    He is too selfish: he doesn’t think about how you are feeling while waiting for him to message you back, or he doesn’t care… or he likes it that you are waiting. In either case, his behavior is inexcusable. And again, I don’t see a reason to expect that this will change. Do you?

    anita

    #404779
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for your feedback. I checked my phone and got a reply awhile ago. He just said “No not this weekend”. This doesn’t really give me any context for why though… so frustrating! I know he’s got some stressors in his life at the moment but this is a super inefficient way to communicate. He’s not in therapy but I have been previously for several years. Luckily, I got a lot checked off my to-do list today and it wasn’t completely wasted waiting for him.  One of our mutual friends said she’s always known him to be a bit distant sometimes but this is strange. I don’t know if it realistically it will change.

    #404780
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    You are welcome. In your original post you wrote: “Another thing that’s been bothering me is the gap in emotional intelligence and communication skills“-what if the problem is not merely his lower emotional intelligence and fewer communication skills but selfishness, that is, not caring about … you, about how you feel and what you need>

    anita

    #404781
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    That is really hard to hear. This doesn’t make it any better but he treats some of his friends this way. In fact, he’s told me he admires how strong some of my friendships are. I don’t think he realizes he’s not putting in effort to maintain relationships around him. He has said he hasn’t kept very many friendships since college but I thought that was common. Weirdly enough, I’m actually closer to one of his longtime college friends than he is!

    #404782
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I feel like I am making excuses for him. I will be doing some serious reflecting tonight!

    #404783
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I wish you a serious and courageous reflecting tonight. Please let me know what you come up with. Good night., Miss Pickles!

    anita

    #404832
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    Update: Last night, I asked him if there was a reason for him canceling and he replied this morning. He has had a bad week and hasn’t been feeling well. He also suggested video chatting this evening. I am only partially out of town today but I’m not really interested in talking to him tonight. I thinking of setting some boundaries regarding communication/planning, something along the lines of: “OK, I already made plans for today so in the future let me know sooner if something comes up. Hope you feel better soon” I cannot reward this behavior with my presence.

    #404833
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I am curious as to what I missed in our communication (I know I missed something important), so I will be re-reading your posts on these two pages and look for it. I will be quoting from you and thinking-while-I type:

    1st post, July 10th: “My partner and I have been together for about a year and I’m noticing some differences in our core values… We recently had a disagreement about the hypothetical scenario of having to choose between a mother or a child during a complicated birth“-

    -looking back at this early quote with the knowledge of what you shared since,  I find it curious that (1) you refer to him as your partner when in reality, seems to me, he is largely absent from your life, physically and emotionally, (2) you opened your thread with a hypothetical problem, and not with the actual, real-life problem which is … his physical and emotional absence from your life.

    I was shocked to hear he wouldn’t advocate for me in that situation“- he hasn’t advocated for you in real-life situations either, seems to me, and yet you were shocked that in the hypothetical situation, he wouldn’t advocate for you. This leads me to think that you were not aware, or not adequately aware that he hasn’t been there for you, in reality.

    I feel he lacked some empathy in the discussion”- I think that he lacked empathy for you in real-life, not only in that discussion. I tend to think that his lack of empathy is quite severe.

    I envisioned a scenario between us where he’d want ME to console him despite almost dying”- in the hypothetical situation you were a heavily pregnant woman struggling to give birth, almost dying, and he was a healthy man, not at all at risk of dying, yet he (the healthy man) would have wanted you (the almost dying woman) to console him, not the other way around. This hypothetical scenario fits his behavior in real life:  in real life you have been desperate for him to console you, desperate for his empathy. But he had none to give you. You kept giving him your empathy.

    Another thing that’s been bothering me is the gap in emotional intelligence“- I think that it is  some kind of anxiety in the context of a relationship, that dampened your own otherwise high emotional intelligence in such a way, that you were not able to hold on to the  awareness that he is predominantly unempathetic. I think that it felt too dangerous to consider this in real life, so you considered it in a hypothetical situation. A hypothetical situation made his lack of empathy hypothetical, a safer alternative to reality.

    Second post, July 10th: ” I’m frustrated his responses to me were so cold towards me and he’s treating me as though I did something wrong. Still no response. I’m upset he wouldn’t advocate for me in this situation and I doubt he’ll change his opinion. Was it wrong for me to bring up?“- (1) being so cold toward you in real life= lacking empathy for you in real life, (2) your reaction to his lack of empathy was to believe that you did something wrong, that you were the cause of his coldness, (3) again, he didn’t advocate for you, in real life.

    It was only in the 5th post, July 10, that you introduced for the first time the real-life scenarios of the relationship: “I do want to provide context for why I feel like I’ve had to teach him certain things. Some things I’ve had to explain were to ask my day and my interests (not just talk about his), be considerate in planning (not cancel on me at the last minute multiple weekends in a row), to communicate when he’s upset (instead of ignoring me until I beg to know what happened), to apologize when he’s at fault (I tend to over-apologize and am generally the first to say sorry), etc. These type of things have made me feel like I am begging for his attention and that I have to teach him to be nice to me”-

    -the real-life, he talked about his day and about his interests and didn’t ask about yours. He’s been inconsiderate, canceled dates in the last minute weekend after weekend (while not seeing you during the week), ignored you until you begged him to talk to you, did not apologize when he wronged you… all these fit the behavior of an unempathetic, self-centered person.

    The above also indicates your low self-esteem and a sense of over-responsibility,=: feeling that it is you who caused his lack of empathy and misbehavior.

    The 8th post: “He does withdraw pretty often and I’ve pointed it to him, although very gently“- this leads me to think that you’ve been timid around and about him, afraid to upset him, non-confrontational, and not assertive with him.

    I thought he cared for me and he is ignoring me”- this is telling me that part of you is aware that he doesn’t care for you, but predominantly, you’ve been denying this awareness.

    9th and the last of the July 10th posts: “He agreed to do the following:… verbally say he’s upset/he needs time to cool off and reassure me that we will revisit the conversation instead of ignoring me “- will he keep what he agreed to, will he keep his word… will he do the caring thing, will he do that which is good for you?

    Twenty days later, 10th-12th post on July 30th: “I messaged him last night asking if he wanted to come over during the weekend and that I was excited for our one year anniversary coming up soon in a few days. It’s been 24 hours and I still haven’t heard from him… I have only texted him once this week (to spend time together) and twice last week (to spend time together and also to share how grateful I was for him, which he didn’t acknowledge)… I checked my phone and got a reply a while ago. He just said ‘No not this weekend‘”-

    – (1) no, he didn’t keep what he agreed to, he didn’t keep his word, he didn’t do the caring thing for you, (2) you’ve been chasing him still, begging for his time, (3) he is still physically and emotionally absent from your life.

    I know he’s got some stressors in his life at the moment but this is a super inefficient way to communicate“- the main issue when it comes to you, is not that he has stressors and that his communication skills are inefficient. I think that the main issue is that you are not aware that he did communicate to you very efficiently that he is very unempathetic and self-centered.

    I asked you yesterday, July 30th: “what if the problem is not merely his lower emotional intelligence and fewer communication skills but selfishness, that is, not caring about … you, about how you feel and what you need”?

    Your reply, 12th-13th posts: “That is really hard to hear. This doesn’t make it any better but he treats some of his friends this way… I don’t think he realizes he’s not putting in effort to maintain relationships around him. He has said he hasn’t kept very many friendships since college but I thought that was common. Weirdly enough, I’m actually closer to one of his longtime college friends than he is!.. I feel like I am making excuses for him“-

    – indeed you were making excuses for him: he has some stressors in his life, he doesn’t know how to communicate, he’s distant with everyone, not just with me. But what the latter excuse really means is that being predominantly unempathetic,  he is indeed unempathetic with everyone.

    My final thoughts for this post: it looks like, to me, that you grew up with a very distant parent, one similar to this man we discussed and your dynamic in your relationship with this man are a repetition of your child-parent relationship: being very timid with your distant parent= being very timid with your distant “partner”; being  very gentle, very empathetic, very understanding, very forgiving, very accommodating, excusing, explaining, teaching, consoling, advocating for… doing everything in your power to reach an absent heart.

    anita

    #404834
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Miss Pickles:

    I just noticed that you submitted a post for me 2 minutes before I submitted my post to you. I was not aware of your most recent post before I submitted mine. Thank you for the update: what you shared about his words and behavior is congruent with my post above.

    “I thinking of setting some boundaries regarding communication/planning, something along the lines of: ‘OK, I already made plans for today so in the future let me know sooner if something comes up. Hope you feel better soon’ I cannot reward this behavior with my presence”- I don’t think there is anything that you can do to reach his absent or distant heart and it is time for you to stop all your efforts to do so. You can’t fix a severe lack of empathy, unfortunately. No one can.

    anita

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