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Stand Your Ground or Chill Out?

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  • #364166
    RIkki
    Participant

    Okay. I want to start off by saying the “relationship” I’m talking about is a long-term casual thing, so I’m not working towards marriage, we’re not monogamous or planning to be, but we’re also not two people who mean nothing to each other. It’s about more than sex but I don’t have an accurate label for it.

    Here’s the situation….

    I have kids, including one who is too young to be left home alone. He has a child but never had custody of her and hasn’t lived with her since she was a baby, so on the one hand he understands the importance of parenting conceptually, but in his day to day life, he has no experience with that kind of responsibility. So lately it’s been very difficult because of the pandemic. My kids have been with me a lot more than usual since schools closed, giving me less flexibility to see him. We were able to work things out for a few months but now he’s working a lot – 7 nights a week plus 4-5 days a week (two jobs). I have my kids most of the time except for every other weekend when they go with their dad, and I work 5 days a week. We got together a few weeks ago and had an amazing time, but ever since then, we’ve been texting to get together —well, mostly, he’s been texting to get together, but always without giving me enough notice to get a babysitter, get my kids dinner, etc. I’ve tried telling him to plan ahead. I tried showing him what I want by asking him out a day ahead of time. Nothing works. Nothing will sink in. I kind of feel like he’s taking some kind of stand about how far he’s willing to go to see me…which is nowhere at all.

    The thing is, he’s basically emotionally unavailable, but really great in a lot of other ways. I think I am emotionally unavailable as well, and hopefully great in other wasy, too. I’m not asking whether or not to keep hanging out with him and I don’t want judgments about emotionally unavailable men. I’m just trying to decide how to move us past this cycle of him continually asking me out, me having to say no all the time for the same reasons, him never changing how/when he asks me, also not being available when I ask him out because of his schedule. There’s part of me that wants to just do nothing and let him absorb the fact that I’m not going to cave in because my reason for wanting to plan ahead (BTW I’m talking about a few hours ahead, not even days! LOL) is of necessity. I am a parent and cannot make it work any other way.. Then, the Buddhist, calm, side of me says I should just stick to my limits and not “cave in,” but also allow myself to just let him know when I don’t have the kids and I can see him.

    Plan A – I guess the hope is he’ll get the message and show that I’m worth making that one little change for, but the risk is a lot of wasted time not seeing each other while he figures that out.

    Plan B – The advantage is we’re more likely to actually see and enjoy each other, but the disadvantage is I feel like I’m the only one doing anything proactive.

    Just looking for perspectives on this other than my own circle of friends…. Thank you.

    #364216
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    We have to feel strong enough inside to say no when it is a no. He is not going to become more structured or plan ahead type. Yes, stick to your limits and don’t cave in. This is the people pleasing side of us that is really about seeking approval and the need for others to like us so we can like ourselves. Plan A has a flaw: he is how he is and he may or may not learn that he needs to plan ahead with your time. Plan B has a flaw: your giving in so much in order to see him, basically sacrificing the needs of your children/family on constant short notice. Plus it makes us resent that we are the only reasonable ones and doing all the giving. To be with a man, do we have to do all the giving? I am going to suggest Plan C: See him when it is convenient and works for you within the boundaries of your reality, your life, your kids’ needs. Stop worrying about whether or not he will love/like you less if you are unavailable. Let him know the weekend that is your child free weekend if you want. Go on about your life. Recognize that this is who he is and when it meshes with your availability, then enjoy seeing him. When it doesn’t mesh with your availability, be okay with saying no. Learning to be firm in our personal boundaries is a lesson many of us struggle with but not being firm with the things we feel we should say no about only leads to inner turmoil and resentment of the person we are saying yes to.

    #364221
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rlkki:

    You shared that you are in a casual, long term, “more than sex” relationship without a label (including the label “relationship”) with an emotionally unavailable man. You “don’t want judgments about emotionally unavailable men”, and you are not asking if you should continue to see him. You think that you are emotionally unavailable yourself. The two of you are not monogamous, don’t plan to be monogamous, and marriage is not in the plans.

    He works two jobs 4-5 days and 7 nights per week. You are have kids living at home (schools are closed because of the pandemic), and one of your kids is too young to be  left alone. You work 5 days a week (from home, I am guessing?) Problem is that you don’t get to see him because he texts you about getting together too soon before proposed get-together so you don’t have the time to arrange for a babysitter, get your kids dinner etc. You told him you need an earlier notice, a few hours notice, so to prepare, but he keeps texting you to get together without the earlier notice you requested, “him never changing how/when he asks me, also not being available when I ask him out because of his schedule”.

    You wrote that the Buddhist side of you says you should stick to your limits and not “cave in”- I don’t understand what you mean by caving in (I don’t think you mean to leave your children alone so to see him.. or have him in your home with your children)?

    anita

    #364265
    RIkki
    Participant

    Hi Rose of Yellow.

    Thank you for the response. I think you missed part of what I’m sayign because youre Plan C is in fact my Plan B, which is for me to contact him whenever I’m available and my kids are with their father. Also, although Ihear what you’re saying, truly, I am not concerned about whether or not he likes me. It’s a very practical thing. I’m concerned about what is the effective way to be able to see him becuase I like him. (I know he likes me and will continue to like me regardless of what I do in this regard). I’m just trying to decide if I should just A. continue to say no when it doesn’t work for me but also just pull back and let him figure it out when he doesn’t get to see me at all- OR- B. continue to say no when it doesn’t work for me but also feel free to contact him when it does work for me. (In that case, he will still benefit from being able to see me, but so will I)

    Anita,

    Also, thank you so much for taking the time to  write. To answer your questions:

    1. I don’t work at home normally, but during the pandemic I do. Sometimes my teenager is home and can watch her little brother.

    2. “Cave in” means scramble to figure out a way to get a babysitter, etc. at the last minute, which I have done.

    #364267
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rlkii:

    Of the two plans: A) Continue to say No when it doesn’t work for you and not contact him when it does work for you/ say no when he contacts you and it does work for you, and B) Continue to say No and contact him when it does work for you-

    – if you really have no motivation to change him and/or the casual, no expectations nature of the relationship, then choose B.

    Problem is, it is reasonable to expect him to give you a notice before getting together so that you can get a babysitter. It is not decent on his part, to not give you such notice. Maybe he is lacking understanding of your situation and maybe he doesn’t care. If he doesn’t care- is that a problem for you, that he may not care to inconvenience you, to cause you to “scramble to figure out a way to get a  babysitter, etc.”?

    (I will be back to the computer in about 10 hours from now).

    anita

     

    #364282
    RIkki
    Participant

    Thanks, Anita.

    Yeah. I have no desire to change him or the relationship, but you are totally correct in picking up on my irritation with the lack of respect for my schedule. Sometimes it’s just helpful to hear back from other people what this all sounds like. I’m thinking now that I’m just going to take a break from trying to get together with him. If he happens to contact me when I’m free (which is not that often) and I feel like seeing him, I will, but right now I just find him less attractive becasue of all of this, especially since he has a child himself (without custody though) and should really understand this after a year of us seeing each other.

    So of course I don’t really  have to decide anything because I can contact him if I really want to, but I think maybe my energy is better directed to other people I’m seeing, even though I do really enjoy his company. What a shame.

    Thanks!

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by RIkki.
    #364290
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Rlkki:

    You are welcome. Interesting, as I read the first paragraph of your recent post, I thought to myself: what a shame for him, all he had to do was make the effort to call you a few hours earlier (that’s not a lot to ask for), and your last words were “What a shame”.

    You mentioned “irritation” which is a mild form of anger, but even a  mild form of anger at a person is enough to kill the desire for that person (“I just find him less attractive”), at least for a while- you may forget the anger when lonely or otherwise distracted, but unless he changes and respects you, your understandable anger is likely to pop up again and again.

    The title of your thread is “Stand Your Ground or Chill Out?”- always, whenever possible stand your ground. Plus, chilling out is about feeling cool, and anger is a hot-and-uncomfortable feeling.

    anita

     

    #364305
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    If he happens to contact me when I’m free (which is not that often) and I feel like seeing him, I will, but right now I just find him less attractive becasue of all of this, especially since he has a child himself (without custody though) and should really understand this after a year of us seeing each other.

    This is your answer, Rikki. I am sorry I misunderstood your Plan A, Plan B, my point remains that he may not ever be able to change. He may be a spur of the moment person, his desires above other’s realities. We each have to decide how much giving up of our own agency we want to do. Sometimes people like this are self absorbed or free spirits. This may clash with our own personalities. Maybe we find enough connectedness and similarity that we can accept and look past these annoyances. Maybe it is a really big deal. You know this man, you know how self absorbed or free spirit he is, and you know yourself and what you feel you can put up with.

    #364308
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Another thought or two. Sometimes this kind of stuff feels like disrespect. We have told the other person and they continue to disregard our needs, wants, life perimeters, call it whatever we want. If we can look at this person and see who they really are, we can then decide if their personality issues work for us. Sometimes we have to give in a little and sometimes yes, we have to stand our ground. Some things are a deal breaker. A disrespectful, self absorbed person is not a good life partner. Maybe we feel that the behavior of the other person is something we need permission to stand our ground about. Sometimes we doubt ourselves. Sometimes maybe we want to deny behaviors that stare us in the face. I have done all of this and found the other person doesn’t change just because I find their behaviors problematic. I have a female friend who does odd stuff like tell several of us we are going to lunch with just her and then a bunch of us show up to find the group, and no one knew the group was attending. We all like each other but all of us looked at each other stunned, and no one laughed at the “joke”. My friend finds this amusing, I find it creepy. This is who she is but the last time she pulled a bait and switch, I said I didn’t like that place to eat at and would catch them another time. It felt right to do what was best for me but it doesn’t make me happy to have to set boundaries like this. I like my friend but she isn’t trustworthy. Many people will give in to us when we need giving in to about various things as perhaps they are “other centered”, but some people just don’t have the bandwidth or capability to do this as perhaps they are “self centered”. Doesn’t mean we can’t like them to a certain degree, doesn’t mean they are bad people. But the stuff that feels disrespectful has a way of becoming a pretty big issue in any relationship.

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