July 7, 2019 at 2:55 pm #302305
I am a mature lady who was widowed young. Although not looking for another partner, 3 years later I met a man whose company I enjoyed and eventually we got together. There were differences, he was much less educated than me, had no money and was in a low paid job. As money has never been a deciding factor in anything in my life, I took the view that it was the way he made me feel, and I enjoyed being with him. I let him move in with me and the only thing I said was ‘Don’t Lie to Me’. Unfortunately, a year after moving in, I found out he had lied about his finances. He had a couple of debts that he was hiding from me. I was devastated. I asked him to leave but he wouldn’t, and I felt sorry for him. So we carried on, but the relationship was scarred. I didn’t trust him, I looked on him differently. He started getting aggressive. He hit me on a few occasions and really hurt me on one occasion. After this, I made him leave, and I think he was so frightened at what he had done, that he did leave, but only because I said I would still see him.
Well, that was 5 years ago. He has tried since then to get back together properly. I have gone out with him, and gone on holidays, but I won’t let him move back in. Although, I have been thinking about it this last year. He has lost the aggressive way and is trying very hard to be what he thinks is a good partner. However, I think the differences between us are showing up more now. He doesn’t run his own life. He lets life happen to him, and complains about it. He doesn’t take responsibility for his own life. He does think life happens to him. It frustrates me.
So why do I still have him in my life? Why do I not try to meet someone more suitable for me? He has a good heart. He is extremely shy and has low self esteem. When I first met him, I just thought he needed someone believing in him. So I gave him lots of support and encouragement. But it is a bottomless pit. I can keep on giving love and support, and it’s never enough. Sometimes, I would just like someone to support me. I think he would like to be that person, but doesn’t know how. I just cannot believe that I’ve been with this person for 13 years and was only happy for the first 3 of those years. I just can’t seem to make a final break. I feel sorry for him; I’m frightened I’m making a mistake; what if it’s me?; he’s really trying, what if he can be a good partner? I’m going around in circles, and the years are going on. I feel I’ve wasted my life. If I give up on him now, 13 years are wasted, But am I going to continue wasting years of my life, or can it come right?July 7, 2019 at 3:26 pm #302315
“When I first met him, I just thought he needed someone believing in him. So I gave him lots of support and encouragement. But it is a bottomless pit”-
– when you met him he was a grown man, no longer a child, and that means his brain was already formed. Some call childhood years the Formative Years, because the brain is formed during those years. And it is during those years that the child is receptive to “someone believing in” them, receptive to support and encouragement.
Clearly he didn’t receive those things in the years that mattered most.
And now, there is a chance for him to become a responsible, more functional man, but only if he took on a healing process of sorts, perhaps seeing a quality psychotherapist while in a relationship with you, and then, working hard on becoming the man he wants to be.
I think that whatever ways that he did improve during his relationship with you, is probably the best he can do without professional help and without his ability and willingness to take on the healing process required.
Another point: when we invest in something or someone, we tend to continue to invest because it is too painful to accept the fact that we wasted so much of our lives, so we keep investing and keep wasting, hoping for a return of investment to finally take place and make sense of our efforts for so long.
July 7, 2019 at 4:08 pm #302325
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by anita.
I gave him lots of support and encouragement. But it is a bottomless pit. I can keep on giving love and support, and it’s never enough
Your situation reminds me of that quote that is attribued to Julia Roberts, “Women, you are not rehabilitation centers for badly raised men. It is not your job to fix him, change him, parent him. You want a partner, not a project.”
You also said, If I give up on him now, 13 years are wasted. Do you know about the behavior economic principle of Sunk Cost Fallacy, where Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort). For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat just to “get their money’s worth”.
Look at yourself on why you cannot “make the final break.” All of us here can give advice up the yin yang but ultimately it is up to you to follow your own advice and take action. Re-read your post and pretend it was written by someone you care about. What would you say to her?
MarkJuly 8, 2019 at 1:40 am #302351
You’ve learned a valuable lesson here. The lesson of the bottomless pit. You cannot change this man. If he refuses to believe in himself nothing you can say or do will make any difference. You are with him because you feel sorry for him. He will never be able to offer you the support that you want. He has lied to you, he has hit you and he has been aggressive/threatening. He only moved out when you promised that you would continue to see him. What kind of basis is that for a healthy loving relationship? It isn’t you beyond the fact that your needs aren’t being met. How important is that to you?
PeggyJuly 8, 2019 at 12:43 pm #302441
I wonder if we stay in relationships that aren’t healthy because its just easier. We remain in conflict to avoid conflict.
“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.” ― <span class=”authorOrTitle”>Krishnamurti</span>
“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” ― <span class=”authorOrTitle”>Patrick Overton,</span>
I personally go by the three strike rule – if after the third breakup – makeup attempt fails, that it. No more contact. Zero. If your going back time and time again, or worse keeping the door open, just so you can slam it shut again… it isn’t about Love.July 12, 2019 at 4:16 am #303013
“However, I think the differences between us are showing up more now. He doesn’t run his own life. He lets life happen to him, and complains about it. He doesn’t take responsibility for his own life.”-
It is evident in your own words that he is irresponsible towards life, rather he complains the way life is moving and moreover differences are there between you and him. Firstly, habit really dies hard and it’s really true in most of the cases. Secondly, when a person cannot take his own responsibility how do you expect him that he will be taking care of you and your responsibility. According to you he has a good heart, but if he really had a good loving heart then he would not have lied to you about his debts and indulged in assault etc.
You are looking only on the one side since you are attached emotionally with him….!
RajuJuly 13, 2019 at 5:55 am #303137
Thank you so much for your replies. I’m sorry I’ve only just seen them. I thought my post was waiting for moderation. I mustn’t have ticked the box to notify me. Sorry.
Anita, this is what I have said, and thought, for a long time – he’s past his formative years. Having met his family, I can see how he has low self-esteem. This actually makes it harder to leave, because I feel that it’s not his fault he is the way he is, and I would feel that I too were abandoning him. If I had known more at the beginning of the relationship I would have left then, but I feel that it’s harder now. He has recognised the problems he has and why he has them, and is trying his best to address them. Your final paragraph is exactly the problem. I keep going around in circles saying to myself ‘I should have gone at the beginning, I’ve wasted all these years. I’ll just give it till Christmas, then I’ll make the decision.’ But then I give it another chance.
Mark, I love your quote. Again, I’ve said that many times – ‘I don’t want to be your Mother’. I want an equal partner. Thank you for explaining the Sunk Cost Fallacy so clearly – so true. I did read over my post again, objectively, and yes, I would tell me to leave the relationship, invest in myself, It’s not my job to fix him. This is my problem, I know the answers when I think with my head. It’s when I think with my heart, and feelings come in. I don’t know if I could live with myself.
Peggy, I have recognised that my needs are not being met. Surprisingly, I’ve only recently realised that properly. I knew I wasn’t happy, and things weren’t right, but I’ve never really factored my needs into the equation; A problem with my own upbringing; I always put others’ needs before mine. I’m only just confronting this.
Peter – I value your insight to conflict. Sometimes it is easier to just stay where you are. I do think fear is a factor
Ragu, That’s my worry, that he is not capable of looking after me if needs be.
I am grateful for your replies. It has helped me see that my thoughts and worries are valid, and has given me some insights. I’m not very strong at putting my needs first, or even in the mix. I keep telling myself that there’s two sides to every story. I keep worrying that I maybe haven’t handled things right. I think, maybe, instead of helping every time (doing things for him) I should leave him to sort it out himself. It’s getting harder now to keep my patience. I then chastise myself for losing my patience. I also tell myself that everyone has their faults, what if I get worse faults next time. I know he is not a malicious liar, it’s just easier for him to not confront the situation (and hope it goes away). Re the debt, he was trying to get rid of it before I found out!!! His aggression was due to him not being able to cope with the situation and not feeling good enough. This is how it goes , I keep looking at both sides of the story and don’t know what to do
I need to read these replies again and think again.July 13, 2019 at 6:24 am #303141
I respect your caring compassion for this guy for not wanting to “abandon” him. Here’s another perspective: You don’t respect him enough to allow him to take care of himself. You are dis-empowering him and treating him as a helpless invalid. You are staying with him out of pity or at best, out of obligation rather than love. If I had known more at the beginning of the relationship I would have left then…I’ve wasted all these years. This is being a self sacrificing martyr where you are putting yourself last.
Harsh words I know but I’m doing so to give you another perspective rather than, “I have to stay with him because he cannot take care of himself and nobody else can do it except for me.”
MarkJuly 13, 2019 at 6:51 am #303155
I was wondering, if I may take you back in time, when you were a child, you had a parent who was… like a child, weak, needing help.. and you focused on that parent’s well being, that was your number one priority. Was that the case?
* I will check to see if you answer in a few hours before I will be away from the computer and back in about 48 hours from now.
anitaJuly 13, 2019 at 7:53 am #303165
Hi Mark, I have, most certainly, lost respect and trust. I agree with what you are saying. The only thing is that in the past when I’ve left him to do things himself he makes a mess of things and it’s harder to put right. I’m generalising there, it’s not every time, but enough to make me wary. I think that as a couple, what he does, reflects on me, so I don’t want people to think that I would do things so poorly. I have been trying to adopt the perspective you highlight, trying to maybe just give him advice (when asked) and then leave him to it. This does require a lot of patience, which as I said before I seem to be running out of. Thank you for your words, I like this perspective, it’s comforting to not feel so responsible.
Anita, no I didn’t care for a parent, but I was the eldest child and was expected to be in charge. If anything went wrong it was my fault. Consequently, I tried to make sure nothing went wrong.
JoJuly 13, 2019 at 8:31 am #303167
“I was the eldest child and was expected to be in charge. If anything went wrong it was my fault”, you wrote about your role in your home of origin. If your younger siblings misbehaved or made mistakes, it reflected on you, not doing a good job being in charge of them, that is, your parents would think poorly of you, correct?
Fast forward, decades later, in your home with this man, you wrote: “what he does, reflects on me, so I don’t want people to think hat I would do things poorly”-
– reads to me that this man is like one of your younger siblings, you being in charge of him, his behavior or misbehavior reflects on how well or how poorly you perform your job in the eyes of .. people whose approval you need (“people” are an expansion of the two most important people in your young life, your parents).
I will be back to the computer in about 45 hours from now.
anitaJuly 17, 2019 at 12:48 am #303679
I guess you could be right. Do you not think though that the actions of your partner do reflect on you?
JoJuly 17, 2019 at 7:58 am #303713
If your partner is a legal partner and is one financial unit with you then his actions do reflect on you in such ways as destroying your credit. If your partner is not a legal unit with you but the two of you live together, if he brings illegal drugs home, you can be held legally responsible for possession of illegal drugs even if you didn’t know they are in your home, so financially and legally, your partner’s behaviors reflect on you.
Let’s look at the items that may reflect on you regarding the man your thread is about, in the past and/or at present: “he was much less educated than me, had no money, and was in a low paid job… lied about his finances.. had a couple of debts that he was hiding from me… He hit me on a few occasions… He has lost the aggressive way and is trying very hard to be what he thinks is a good partner… He lets life happen to him, and complains about it.. He has a good heart. He is extremely shy and has low self esteem”.
Assuming the hitting you is in the past of long ago, never repeated for a good number of years, he reads to me like a decent guy. When you shared that he made little money and he lied to you about a debt he had, I thought: hmmm.. he didn’t tell her about the debt so that (you) take care of it, he hid it from you. “he was trying to get rid of it before I found out!!!”- that is not a bad person, a user. I wouldn’t hold that lie against him.
Again, reads like a decent guy. I think you’ve been embarrassed of him not being educated, not having money, having a low paying job… feeling that these things reflect on you as in: Jo can’t get a … better man, an educated man, a professional, a man with a good job and money!
Am I correct?
anitaJuly 19, 2019 at 1:36 am #303917
Anita, No, I’m not embarrassed by those things. I would not have got together with him at all if those things bothered me. It’s things like: a friend helped him by setting up some opportunities for him which he wasted because he didn’t do any work on it (I think mainly because he didn’t know what he was doing properly). That friend has treated me differently since. Another friend gave him some work which he didn’t do very well. I was embarrassed by that. Without going into too many details, it’s things like these. I don’t want to be standing over him telling him what to do. I don’t want to be his mother.
Yes, your thought pattern over the lie is how I talked to myself at the time. That’s why I did carry on. But, he DID deceive me. He eroded my trust. It was the one and only thing I asked when he moved in and he didn’t respect me enough to honour it.
JoJuly 19, 2019 at 9:25 am #303943
Reading the two examples you provided in your recent post, once you introduced him to your friends, asking one to help him and the other to hire him for a job, and he didn’t follow through with the first and did a poor job for the second, then yes, his behavior reflects on you, indicating that you practiced poor judgment.
I re-read your posts and it is my understanding that you are a very generous woman and that you did the very best any person can do to help another person, this man, that is. You tried real hard for more than a decade, exercised all the patience you had.. you really did your very best. And your best wasn’t good enough because your mission to change him was mission impossible, would be even for a competent psychotherapist.
It is impossible to change a grown man from one who “doesn’t run his own life.. lets life happen to him, and complains about it.. doesn’t take responsibility for his own life.. extremely shy and has low self esteem” to a man running his own life, responsible and confident.
It is possible, gradually and over a long, long time only if he was motivated and did the hard work for years. But all he has been motivated to do so far was damage control (to no longer hit you). He can probably complain less, or stop altogether, but these changes are superficial, important but far from making him a changed man.
Your role in the relationship was being his mother, and this role was established at the beginning of the relationship (“When I first met him, I just thought he needed someone believing in him. So I gave him lots of support and encouragement”, and this is why you have trouble leaving him, feeling like you will be abandoning a child, your child (“I would feel that I too were abandoning him.. I’ve said that many times- ‘I don’t want to be your Mother'”)-
The origin of this relationship role is in your childhood: “A problem with my own upbringing; I always put others’ needs before mine.. I was the eldest child and was expected to be in charge. If anything went wrong it was my fault. Consequently, I tried to make sure nothing went wrong”-
You shouldn’t have been given that responsibility as a child, it was not fair to you and you were not qualified, being too young and in need yourself, to parent younger siblings. This childhood role set you up to find yourself in your current adult relationship role, acting like this man’s mother.
You imagine somehow that he is a child, but he is not more of a child than you are, or me. We are all children inside- he still lives his childhood’s role of being passive and letting life happen to him and you still live your childhood role of parenting him, see- the two of you are children.
Better you quit this role and end the relationship. If you quit your role and keep the relationship going, maybe, just maybe he will get so angry that he will hit you again. After all, he has done that in the past. Therefore,I suggest you end this relationship quickly and as smoothly as you can do it. Plan how to do it so that you are as safe as you can be. Please post again anytime, if you would like to communicate further with me.