I have a problem...
Hello, I am having a big problem. I don't really know what to do.
I'm having jealousy and trust issues with my girlfriend. We've been together for a bit over a year and live together. She is 27 and I am 32. This is her first relationship where her other partners have not been on the "DL," and this is my first long-term relationship that isn't casual/low-stakes.
My girlfriend accuses me of being "really monogamous" because of the discomfort her dating pattern causes me.
I don't really know what to say to that because it feels like that's an introduction to a "breaking up" conversation and I have a strong emotional reaction to it. If I could corral my feelings I guess she's just checking to make sure things are working for me too. She says that she loves me and the only time she breaks up with people are when she doesn't love them any more. But in my experience, you can love someone a lot and still not be with them, and that's what I'm hearing when she says that.
She is having a lot of NRE with her new partner and I feel threatened by it. She says her new lover is "not a big deal" but her actions and behavior don't match up with that.
With previous partners I developed a boundary with her that she needs to give me a few hours notice before she spends the night with someone. That's been really hard for her to do but she's been trying and she has been doing very well with this new partner in that she hasn't once yet spent the night with this person. She does spend 6 - 8, one day upwards of 11 hours a day with this person though. *(I don't want to try to put a time cap on her date time, I'm uncomfortable with being that controlling).
She has been out late with her new partner every day for the past 10 days. I work 9 am to 10 or 11 pm so I can hardly say I miss her when I'm not there. What she does with her own time is her own business, and it's not my place to try to control it.
Maybe I'm wrong for setting a boundary about advance notice, I just tend to worry and wonder what I'll tell her family if she got axe murdered on the bus. So the "advance notice" rule is for my own emotional convenience. I've expressed a few times that if she is really chafing at the "advance notice" rule, as she seems to be, we can ditch it and I can learn to deal. But she wants to keep it because it's the only other boundary besides safer sex that I've asked of her and she wants to work to establish trust in our relationship, which I respect and appreciate.
I feel resentful of the fact that her time and energy seems to be mostly devoted to this other person.
She's been unemployed/underemployed for the past 5 months so I pay all the rent, bills, groceries and other expenses. She said that I resent that I have to work hard while she gets to have fun and I guess that's accurate. I asked her to do the laundry yesterday while I was at work because I'm out of clean underwear.
Anyway, part of our arrangement is that because she doesn't contribute to household expenses (her money is for her dating, her chiropractor and for paying off past debts incurred by other lovers) she will do chores. I asked her to do the laundry the day before and reminded her at 4 pm (because I am out of clean underwear). The way she kept her promise was that she came home (from new partner's place) ten minutes before I got home from work and set the laundry basket on top the washer because it was full of someone else's clothes. She said that technically I couldn't say she hadn't started the laundry, and that we couldn't argue about laundry because it was a silly thing and not what I was really upset about.
I suppose she's right. I will fully admit that I'm immature and that I'm not handling my feelings as I should be. Laundry IS a silly thing to argue about. What I was upset about was her "last minute" tactic, which just seems like going through the motions to me. Of course, that's understandable due to the NRE I guess, and I shouldn't take it so personally. I shouldn't have overreacted.
It just seems that at every turn or strategy that I take, I'm wrong. I should be able to accept being wrong without feeling bad about it, and then apply logic and reason to come to a workable solution that benefits both parties. Instead, it seems like there are a bunch of screaming monkeys jumping up and down throwing poop inside my brain. I cry too much, which shuts down our conversations a lot.
My partner told me that even though I feel like I work hard she's the one doing all the work in the relationship because she has to deal with my emotional drama. She told me I don't understand how much work it is for her to try and respect my boundaries and then come home and find me upset. Processing is exhausting but when I bottle up my feelings, I tend to come unglued about stupid things (such as laundry), but me not bottling up my feelings is exhausting for her.
I'm very frustrating to her, which is understandable and I feel bad. She's done everything that she said she would. If I were a more laid-back, calm, generous type of person I would just step back and wait and see where the thing with the new lover went.
I guess that's the type of person I need to become if I want to keep my lover. I don't know how to do that.
I've been to tons of CBT and DBT type of therapy in the past and still I'm high-strung and overemotional. My partner says that is just the type of person I am, "high maintenance," and that it's not bad. But I don't see how it can't be bad if I'm always causing problems in my emotional reactions.
This is the best relationship I've ever had (I know the laundry thing doesn't paint it that way but it's my own skewed perception) and I don't want to eff it up because of my own emotions causing me to sabotage something good.
Anyway, my general response to your post is this.: If you're feeling neglected by her in some way, as in how much time she spends with you as compared with the other, just tell her so. Talk about that with her. If she doesn't care about your needs and wants then something ain't right.
CBT = Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
DBT = Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
We have talked about my feelings, that's the problem. It's not that she doesn't care, it's just that my feelings are irrational and it's like, jealousy and resentment shouldn't be indulged or validated, there shouldn't be boundaries set based on those emotions...
You work more than 12 hours a day.
She works part-time if at all (I'm guessing since you say unemployed or underemployed).
I don't think it's unfair to ask her to do more household tasks than you do.
My husband only works 8 hours a day and I do all of the household stuff except taking out the trash/recycling and some of the things that require a taller and/or stronger person (fixing certain things). He also takes care of the actual act of paying the bills, although I am the one who sets up the reminders in his email or leaves any paper bills we happen to get sitting on the desk with the due date plastered as large as possible on the envelope.. :) I feel like me doing the laundry, dishes, picking up the house, vacuuming, dusting, etc. is a fair trade for him working full time and pretty much fully supporting me. Because of his willingness to do that, when he's off, we get to spend time together OR he gets to goof off and have fun. That's the way it works. We both work about 40 hours a week, mine just happens to be in the home - either keeping up the house or doing random odd jobs for a bit of cash.
Seriously, nothing you have said sounds irrational to me. Granted, that's coming from another "high-maintenance" person, but you're not imposing on her life at all by asking her to do a few things. You're just trying to maintain a partnership where both people contribute TO THE HOUSEHOLD and it doesn't sound like she wants to do that. Sure, she may be dedicated to your romantic relationship by supporting you emotionally and caring about you as a person, but is she dedicated to the relationship you two have as cohabitants?
Sounds to me that she wants to guilt you into supporting her in the manner to which she plans to become accustomed all while she complains how exhausting it is to eat bonbons. I would just love to hear how she describes her plush little set up to others when you aren't around. Honestly, I think she is just using you until something better comes along. She is hoping she has found it, but it may not make enough money (as it seems the other partner has all this free time too) for her to move out. Sorry. That is not what you want to hear I am sure. However, people who truly love their other partners don't invalidate their feelings the way she does your. You might want to look up "gaslighting".
Do you have any other partners, or interest in other partners?
Do you feel resentful of the money imbalance?
You said that you have the "advance notice" boundary that she has respected. In your heart of hearts, would you also feel better if there was a "time spent" (or frequency of seeing each other) boundary?
I may be way off -- but my read of this is that you are upset about the new lover, denying yourself the right to ask for what you want (less intensity with the lover) because you think it's not fair, resenting her for not giving you what you want even though you haven't asked for it*, and funneling that resentment into housework/money issues.
I am not sure if this would be helpful to you, but my partner and I have an agreement that feelings are always validated, period. It doesn't matter how stupid or irrational they are, if you're feeling it, it matters. For me, just the process of validation makes it a lot easier to arrive at a practical solution that we both agree with.
*this is in no way a criticism; I completely understand your feeling that you can't/shouldn't ask her to spend less time with the guy when you're not even around. Just thinking the conflict between what you want and what you think you're supposed to do might be at the root of a lot of this turmoil.
Hang on guys, I don't think there is any reason to assume she is taking him for granted on purpose. My guess is she doesn't know she is doing it at all. She just doesn't see all the ways he is supporting her, she just sees the hard parts, that's kind of normal in long term relationships. Not that it should be.
I don't think it's fair to assume she is some scheming gold digger. It's easy to start not noticing the way your partner gives to you, it's easy to start to feel like it's owed to you, it's easy to look at the things you don't have and feel annoyed by the obstacles in between getting them. That doesn't make you a bad person. A person that needs reminding? yes. A person that could use some personal growth? Probably. But a person who is deliberately using there partner? It's not safe or fair to assume that.
I do resent the money thing because she doesn't really respect or understand that it has been difficult me to adjust from 1 adult living on a modest salary in an expensive part of Seattle to 2 adults living on the same amount. She used to give me a few hundred a month for rent and utilities until she lost her old job. She's always made minimum wage or been paid under the table, so to her "$2000 a month is enough money to cover a mattress and roll around naked in." She wants new bedroom furniture and I can't afford it right now. I want to fix my car and save instead.
The other day we were at the grocery store and I put some frozen vegetables in the cart that were on sale. She said "I won't eat those, I want these instead" and put in something that I considered expensive. I said "No..." and she made a pouty face and took it out. This type of exchange happened with a few other items and I snapped and said "Well when you get a job and start contributing to the household again you can pick out whatever you want." She got mad and said "Oh I see how it is, since I'm just a leech I don't get a say in what we eat." Later I apologized for hurting her feelings because it was a nasty thing to say, but the damage was done.
I don't have other partners and I realize that's probably part of the problem, and I would have a different perspective if I did. Unfortunately I struggle with dating due to social awkwardness and self esteem issues, which is my own fault and shouldn't affect her own perogative to find partners and have her own needs met. I understand that. I feel like I shouldn't be looking to date until I improve my emotional maturity and my distress tolerance because it's not really fair to other people and I'd just be wasting their time. Honestly I wasn't looking to date when I met my current partner, we were really close friends for a year before we started a romantic relationship and I resisted for a while because I was afraid of becoming a big old manbaby (like I'm being right now).
One thing she really enjoys doing is to "close out the bar," meaning she wants to stay out as long as possible. In the past that caused her to miss the last bus home and thus have to spend the night, breaking the "advance notice" boundary, but that's not really her fault. I mean, with NRE she gets caught up in the moment and forgets until it's too late. I do resent that because it means for those moments she "forgets to care" about my feelings, which she said herself is accurate (forgetting to care). But it's not malicious or intentional, someone forgetting is a mistake, so I can't hold it against her. So that's why the boundary of advance notice is hard for her.
I don't know how to ask for less intensity with the lover because intensity is what it is. I don't think she can just turn down a dial or something. She has a really strong bond with this person and that's something that I can't change or alter. It is what it is.
She said last night that because I've expressed hurt feelings and freaked out in a non-productive way that I've polluted her thing with the lover so much she might as well just break it off, which makes me feel terrible because they're obviously falling in love with one another and I don't want to be the "bad guy."
Also yeah, I can't ask her to spend less time with the lover (she's actually a girl) because I'm not around. My partner pointed out last night that because of my work schedule I don't go out much, so what's the point of sitting at home waiting around for me? That's not time invested in the relationship. It's just her making a pointless sacrifice.
She does do chores around the house and she has gotten better about it. The laundry incident is more of a "wtf" moment than a status quo moment.
I'm sorry, I realize now that this isn't a polyamory issue at all, it's my own self-esteem issue. I shouldn't have posted this thread.
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