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Old 05-05-2013, 11:04 PM
Josie Josie is offline
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Default From Poly Theory to Poly Practice (Help!)

Background: I've been with my boyfriend for 2 years now, been living together about 8 months. When we first got together, he stated that he was not comfortable in monogamous relationships, I knew that I would have some difficulty with this but also was aware, that if given the right support, it's something I could work through.

Until recently, despite his best efforts, my boyfriend was unable to find another partner, you could say that as far as that side of the relationship was concerned we were still in poly theory and yet to experience poly practice. We had talked things over, come up with boundaries, set up decent communication but it was yet to really be put to use.

On my side, I started dating my girlfriend about 7 months ago. My boyfriend feels very strong compersion, and sometimes it was almost as if he were even more excited about it than I was, so we encountered no problems. In fact, they both get on incredibly well and care about each other deeply, but platonically.

The problem is, I don't feel compersion. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I could never be happy with him being with anyone else, I just don't get the warm fuzzies about it. I was beginning to find, though, that whilst I knew that it would be difficult at first for me, I wanted him to have a partner and was sad when different possible dating scenarios didn't work out for him.

The present situation:

One of my big issues is that I need to expect things. If I don't, I can have quite bad anxiety issues that don't fade even after everything is resolved and rationalised out. We both know this of me. So one of our guidelines is that he let me know if possible, before he gets with someone else, or if not possible, as soon as convenient afterwards. This helps me to be more rational and less anxious about things.

About 7 weeks ago, he went out with some of our friends, I had a large and imminent deadline to work on, so stayed behind. He stayed out all night without telling me he was going to, or letting me know where he was until the morning. I was really worried that something might have happened to him. It turns out he had gotten drunk and spent the night at a girl we'll call B's house and it had gotten amorous.

We had a bit of a fight about this, but got it resolved. He had no idea whether he'd see her again or not and I went home for three weeks over the Easter holiday (not as a consequence, this was always going to happen).

I get back and about 6 hours after I return, he lets me know he's seen her again the night before- not as soon as I'd like to have known, but not too bad. Then I saw he had a hickey on his neck - that he knew about - and this bugged me. It bugged me because at any time his neck could have told me before he did, and I always want to hear it from him directly.

They start seeing each other, and I know I need to take it slow, so we have a chat and come up with a game plan for the foreseeable future:

- Three stay over nights each two week period, which I am informed of in advance, and home by 2pm the next day (this is mostly because I find knowing when to expect someone gets rid of the whole 'waiting around for someone' element which I can sometimes find unpleasant).

- This is to be revised after a 3 week period, when I will figure out exactly what my feelings were, why there were like that and how to deal with them. After this self examination, the plan was to see if I could handle them seeing each other more, or in a more adhoc manner - to basically discover exactly what my limits were and give them as much freedom as I possibly could without it affecting my own emotional well being.

He informs her of this. Her response is to say that if that's the case, then I should have the same restrictions put on my relationship with my girlfriend, to make things equal. This doesn't fly with either me or my boyfriend. Mainly because he has no problem with me seeing my girlfriend and most of the time when she comes over, the three of us hang out. He misses her almost as much as I do when she's not around for a while.

He lets her know that he's not comfortable with doing that and she isn't happy with this. Her and I then talk whilst out with some friends. She says that limitations and guidelines make her feel like I 'slut on the side'. I understand this and apologise for making her feel that way. I then go on to explain that I'm not trying to control her or be possessive, I'm just trying to make sure it doesn't happen all at once as I'm worried that emotionally I wouldn't cope well and that all the relationships in our polyweb would suffer as a consequence. I say, that rather than it being me having a problem with their relationship, it's more about me and my own imperfections that I'm trying to work on. I promise her that at all times I will push myself to the limit of what I'm comfortable with to try and give them as much freedom as I can. We both smile and laugh with each other and hug.

A few days later my boyfriend gets an email from her saying that (quote) 'Your girlfriend is being selfish and you're too scared to stand up for what is right because you're afraid you'll lose her if you don't go along with it'(quote)

So she breaks up with him.

Last night we were all out at a club night where most of our friends go. I saw my boyfriend and her make out and walk down the stairs towards me holding hands. I'm quite drunk at the time, think that they are back together, and given the things that she said about me, was feeling insulted that he'd do that without letting me know first. (Turns out he had meant it as a kind of farewell kiss thing, but I don't find this out until later)

So I snap. I don't become aggressive, I just let her know that I am currently angry with her. This leads one of her friends to call me all sorts of names and say that I'm selfish and controlling and that I've ignored all of B's feelings. The friend won't leave off and let the three of us talk, at this point it's 4am and fed up - so I walk off. My boyfriend and B catch up with me. B tells me that my boyfriend misinterpreted what she said and that she never said or meant anything bad about me, that she didn't remember our previous conversation properly and that she wants us all to talk this out.

Sometimes my boyfriend can misinterpret things (I mean, everyone can sometimes), and I hadn't seen the email at this point, so I decided to give the benefit of the doubt. This morning my boyfriend was dubious about what she had been saying and asked if I'd read the email she'd sent him. That's where I read the above quote. It's not taken out of context and I don't know what other meaning either of us are meant to interpret from 'Your girlfriend is selfish'.

I really don't know what's going on or what I'm meant to do. We're meeting up with her tomorrow. My boyfriend is a mess because he feels like she's being duplicitous but also still cares about her. He also dislikes that she has said those things about me, so he doesn't know what to do.

Any comments or advice?

Part of this was just for therapeutic feeling of putting it all down in writing, but if anyone has any opinions I'd be happy to hear them.

PS - Sorry it's such a long read.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2013, 02:49 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I'm glad writing helped you vent. I'm sorry you are upset.


FOR BOTH OF YOU:

Quote:
I really don't know what's going on or what I'm meant to do. We're meeting up with her tomorrow. My boyfriend is a mess because he feels like she's being duplicitous but also still cares about her. He also dislikes that she has said those things about me, so he doesn't know what to do.
Could not hang with people you think are duplicitous and cause you emotional pain and confusion.

FOR HIM:

He could allow himself to carry on with the process of detachment already in progress. She broke up with him. There's some "farewell kiss" thing. AND there's a scene neither of you enjoyed at the club with her and her friend(s). Why bother going out to meet with her tomorrow to get some more crazy town? Wasn't that enough?

Could cancel meeting, let the "farewell kiss" BE farewell. Let her breaking up with him STAY broken up. Could just let it be so and skip the next installment of drama-lama.

FOR YOU

You requesting things from your BF so you can deal with his other dating life is between you and him. If he's willing to meet your reasonable requests, fine.
I do not know how he expressed the need to meet agreements with you to the GF. In future, you could ask him to keep it simpler and not TMI if he went TMI and that helped fan this hooha.

You could ask him to make his dates with her and not bring up (you+ bf) agreements up in calendar scheduling with her other than simple "Nope, can't have a date that night. I have other plans." or "Sure, but then I have to be home by ____."

Could ask him not overshare details with his dating potentials. He doesn't have to explain WHY. If she presses, "I have other agreements to keep with my other sweetie" should suffice. They are dating, and just 7 weeks in. They are not any committment-y thing at this point. They are still just getting to know each other.

You and BF have been building 2 years. You and your GF have been building 7 mos. She has the same opportunity to build toward something bigger over time with him as they build trust and toward commitment (if they want that.) She just wants everything she wants the very minute when she wants it? Play like she's the only person who exists in your polyweb? Not to have to accept that he comes as a "package deal" and he isn't a poly single without any other partners right now and obligations to meet?

Doesn't sound like she is respectful of him, his life, or the people he cares about then. Sometimes when people bump up against limits they do not like, they call YOU "selfish" because they want it their own way and don't like hearing "No."

Where's the cookies there for him pursuing a partner like this?

MEETING... IF HE GOES

You could let him figure out his cookies on his own. He could cancel the meeting or go. Up to him. If he goes?

You? You could choose to stay home and not attend. He can inform you of anything you need to know post meeting. You don't need to be there front row center if you don't want to be. It is their conflict resolution. Not really yours. You don't sound like you think it is yummy cookies for you to attend and maybe you rather just rest and chill after the club scene last night?

I guess you might be concerned for him since your BF's well being is part of your business... but you can express concern for him and his well being WITHOUT having to attend this meeting.

Could tell him "I am worried about you and this ex-GF person and this meeeting. I hope you do not get served up another round of drama if you go. I'm concerned and will be here later to talk if you need to air out. But I'm not attending for my own mental health. I am full up right now and prefer to rest, and be of better use to myself and to you in case you need TLC post meeting."

Hang in there.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 05-06-2013 at 03:29 AM.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2013, 06:00 PM
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RiverRose RiverRose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josie View Post
About 7 weeks ago, he went out with some of our friends, I had a large and imminent deadline to work on, so stayed behind. He stayed out all night without telling me he was going to, or letting me know where he was until the morning. I was really worried that something might have happened to him. It turns out he had gotten drunk and spent the night at a girl we'll call B's house and it had gotten amorous.
I have no idea how to use the quote function on this site, so here goes nothing lol.

Anyway, it was the above section of your message which worried me hun. I'm sure your boyfriend loves you and cares for you, but he should know that it's not very considerate to let you worry about him like that. I hope he realises that it wasn't fair of him to do that. What if you had gotten really worried and called the police? I've had the same argument with my husband before, and now if he's going to be out for a lot longer than planned he lets me know. All I want is to know that he's safe.

Anyway, hope that you get this whole thing sorted.

Kim xxx.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:08 AM
ManofDiscovery ManofDiscovery is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverRose View Post
I have no idea how to use the quote function on this site, so here goes nothing lol.

Anyway, it was the above section of your message which worried me hun. I'm sure your boyfriend loves you and cares for you, but he should know that it's not very considerate to let you worry about him like that. I hope he realises that it wasn't fair of him to do that. What if you had gotten really worried and called the police? I've had the same argument with my husband before, and now if he's going to be out for a lot longer than planned he lets me know. All I want is to know that he's safe.
You did a good job with your first attempt at quoting - you should be very proud

Anyway I agree with this and I would say that this extends way beyond poly. This is just common decency - whether he was with a girl or not, even if he got drunk and stayed with a guy friend on his sofa, you'd still expect a call, or a text at least just to say that he's ok and he's not coming home.

One thing that struck me is that you and this 'B' girl see what you're doing differently.

The way I read it, you're creating rules such as 'no more than 3 nights, and you must be home by 2pm', not as a permanent rule, but just as a temporary thing in an attempt to protect yourself while you get used to the idea of your man staying overnight with another woman.

I'm not sure she realises this though, and she probably just sees this as you trying to control their relationship.

Perhaps if you tried to explain to her that isn't necessarily a permanent arrangement, but you want them both to be understanding towards you while you get your head around it, it might get a better reaction.

I think that would be quite reasonable 'this is where I'm at right now, and this is what I need currently to feel comfortable with the situation'.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:22 PM
Josie Josie is offline
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Thanks for the replies

Galagirl: The meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday due to being busy. I'd feel more comfortable if I went along. That way I know exactly what's going on, without having to hear it second hand. She said she wanted to talk to both of us together anyway.

As for the idea of them staying broken up, my boyfriend has said that unless she comes to accept and understand the arrangements and seems to stop feeling that I'm being selfish or that he's being coerced into 'obeying', that he wouldn't be comfortable with seeing her again.

This bit very much sums up why I'm feeling quite annoyed with her at the moment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
She just wants everything she wants the very minute when she wants it? Play like she's the only person who exists in your polyweb? Not to have to accept that he comes as a "package deal" and he isn't a poly single without any other partners right now and obligations to meet?

Doesn't sound like she is respectful of him, his life, or the people he cares about then. Sometimes when people bump up against limits they do not like, they call YOU "selfish" because they want it their own way and don't like hearing "No."
I hate being called selfish. It's one of the worst insults someone can give me; for a whole bunch of personal reasons. So, when I've been trying so hard, it pains me that someone would call me that. And it insults my boyfriend that she thinks that he's only going along with my needs because I might break up with him otherwise. It makes me think that maybe she doesn't quite understand the compromise part of relationships.

Bah. We will talk on Thursday and hopefully everything will get sorted out. If not, I'm having a TLC night with my girlfriend that night anyway, so at least I have that to look forward to.

RiverRose: I know what you mean, and that's why we fought about it. However, we've talked about that and have gotten things sorted out. He's agreed to let me know in future. I mainly included that as background for why I'm having a little more trouble - I find that, even if you've forgiven someone, once trust has been broken I kind of need a little reassurance in actions that it won't be again.

I'm an 'actions speak louder than words' sort of person. So, I guess, part of the reason for the guidelines (not all of the reason by any means though), was a trust exercise, to know that if I need something and he agrees, he will actually go through with it. To that point, he's been perfect. He stuck to the 3 nights in two weeks thing and was always home on time. After that had happened, I started to feel more open to it being less formal and restricted because I know that if I really need it, he's happy to give me what I need. If that makes sense?

ManofDiscovery: I had explained that to her, at length in fact. Although I found out this Saturday that she had gotten very drunk after our conversation and didn't remember it properly. So that's part of what we need to talk about when we all meet up.

I know that, because of this, I should give her the benefit of the doubt but I'm finding it hard.

After seeing her on Saturday, watching her friend digging into and insulting me and not doing anything to dissuade it, and the things she wrote about the two of us, I guess I'm still a little hurt and more than anything tired.

I'm tired of the situation and just want it to be easier. But that's not going to make me quit - if this can work, I want it to and will try to help it to however I can. I just have a bad feeling.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:54 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Quote:
I hate being called selfish. It's one of the worst insults someone can give me; for a whole bunch of personal reasons. So, when I've been trying so hard, it pains me that someone would call me that. And it insults my boyfriend that she thinks that he's only going along with my needs because I might break up with him otherwise. It makes me think that maybe she doesn't quite understand the compromise part of relationships.
That's a game, hon.

Most decent people really are decent. They cannot fathom when a person goes over the top with selfishosity and they try to reconcile that behavior back to the land of "everyone trying to play well together" rather than accepting this one person being over the top unacceptable. Usually the first stop is "Well, maybe they did not understand..." and trying again.

SHE BROKE UP WITH HIM. Not the other way around. What's she coming back to a situation that does not meet her needs for? I'd be suspicious.

Could be a vampire user.

Could be cowgirl.

She could be learning how to play you guys to her benefit.

Because she now knows she can threaten him with things to get her way. But perhaps NOT quite to the breaking up point. WIth the farewell kissing stuff -- she's learned he's softie so her tactics may change to emotional ones. Like "sob story" stuff -- feigned illness, broken things, whatever to drag him up and over to her to tend to her.

She now knows that YOU give her what she wants (the willing to try again) by poking you with "selfish" because you might rush to prove how "not selfish" you are to tend to her.

Sometimes the only way to "win" is just not to play with emotional vampires. I would suggest listening to your gut and letting BE broken.

But if you are going to try... could guard against any "Poor lil' ol' me" tactics. Watch carefully. Lay out expectations for a trial period of dating to see if she behaves and if she conducts herself like a trustworthy poly partner or if is it more flaky town. Could get what she's going to be doing to tend to each of YOU in the new agreement.

Quote:
As for the idea of them staying broken up, my boyfriend has said that unless she comes to accept and understand the arrangements and seems to stop feeling that I'm being selfish or that he's being coerced into 'obeying', that he wouldn't be comfortable with seeing her again.
It's good you want to go along to avoid triangulation.

But I'm not yet hearing what concrete actions she's supposed to do/not do in you polyship.

That stuff up there is not specific and measurable behavior. You know you can trust your BF because you gave specific and measurable behavior (3 nights, home on time) and he demonstrated the ability to follow through on promises. So he can be trusted to looser guidelines because he's trustworthy.

This one? Proves herself to be kinda flaky so far. Where's her actions to do/not do to prove herself trustworthy? You guys could go to the conversation with a list of things.

Right now I'm just hearing that she's supposed to "feel" whatever. And you cannot control other people's feelings. If I could I'd wave a wand and go "POOF!" and you would not have that lingering bad feeling under there.

She could also LIE and say her feelings have changed just to come back and there you go. Another round of shenanigans with this person. Have you considered that already?

I could be calling this one wrong, I admit. For your sake I hope I am totally off base! But I smell vampire. Maybe the drama queen one. Could read up on emotional vampire types and see if anything pings for you.

Could tread with caution.

At your meeting, could definitely lay out what she needs to do to rebuild trust and sit back and watch her deliver it before trusting her further. She willing to do it or not? Then see what you see.

GL!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 05-08-2013 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:21 AM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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I hate being called selfish. It's one of the worst insults someone can give me; for a whole bunch of personal reasons. So, when I've been trying so hard, it pains me that someone would call me that.
"Selfish" gets a bad rap. We're all being selfish, almost all of the time, it's why we are able to survive. People get selfish mixed up with "mean" and "sociopathic". It doesn't mean that, it just means that you're looking out for number one. Any derogatory stigma that comes along with it is usually just associated with people thinking you're not doing enough for them (they are entitled to their opinion).

You ARE being selfish by setting up rules for how your boyfriend behaves. You would say it's for good reason, but that doesn't change the fact that you are absolutely putting your needs over others and letting them deal with whatever comes from it.

Personally I think rules about what time he needs to come home or check in with you are unreasonably controlling. It sounds like what a parent would tell their kid "now you come straight home when the streetlights come on". He seems willing to make these sacrifices for you to keep your lack of ability to control your own emotions from doing any damage to the relationship... that's his call.

However I would again agree that B is making what appears to be a factual statement. He's making concessions to preserve your relationship. He could just tell you "You're an adult, I'm sure you can handle your own emotions"... I doubt that would fly very well.

Just because someone says something we don't care to hear doesn't make what they said untrue or unreasonable. Sometimes the truth is the scariest thing a person can say to us.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:26 PM
Josie Josie is offline
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General update: She decided not to meet up. Despite being the one that asked us if we'd talk to here, she now says that we have nothing to talk about.

*shrugs* I'm mostly relieved about this and I think my boyfriend is too - there was a lot of messing around and at least that's over.

Marcus: Yes everyone is selfish, that's the way people work. However, when someone calls another person selfish it's not to just point out 'Hey! You're like every other human I know!', it's meant as an insult, it's meant as a way to say that you're being unreasonable.

You say that I'm selfish in putting my needs before others? Yes, I suppose I do. But then again, so does my boyfriend. He needs to be poly to be happy. I need to take things slow to be happy. Relationships are all about compromising between each sides' (selfish) needs. That's what we've done here. We've figured out a way that works for both of us and are both constantly trying to push our boundaries to the limit so as to try and be able to meet eachother's needs better.

True selfishness is knowing you have trouble with something and not being willing to budge at all for the sake of someone you love. Moving through and constantly evolving, changing and broadening yourself despite the pain and stress it can cause, is not something that I would call selfish.

So yes, I may be selfish for sticking to my current needs, but I would argue that constantly pushing myself to make those needs smaller and less limiting is the opposite.

I think the "You're an adult, I'm sure you can handle your own emotions", is complete rubbish. Sure, push to shove people will 'handle' their emotions, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a general relationship trait that you don't want your partner to be in pain and that if you can help without it encroaching on your own needs - you generally do it.

My boyfriend was very upset the other day and came up to me whilst I was really quite busy, I could have said "You're an adult, I'm sure you can handle your own emotions", but no, I put down what I was doing for the moment and gave him a hug and did my best to help him out. He was hurting, perhaps it was inconvenient for me to help him out and give him what he needed, but it didn't encroach on my needs and it helped him out.

I don't think I could ever be in a relationship where the mantra dictated that just because I was an adult that I wasn't entitled to some help every now and again if I was struggling.
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:11 PM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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General update: She decided not to meet up. Despite being the one that asked us if we'd talk to here, she now says that we have nothing to talk about.

*shrugs* I'm mostly relieved about this and I think my boyfriend is too - there was a lot of messing around and at least that's over.
It doesn't sound like she would have been a very positive addition to your world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josie View Post
Relationships are all about compromising between each sides' (selfish) needs.
*Your* relationship is apparently all about compromise.

My relationships are about enjoying what my partners naturally choose to give me and vice verse. I don't want IV to give things up for me; to alter herself to try and become a puzzle piece that fits better in the slots provided. I want her to flourish and live her life as she chooses to live it. My hope is that she will naturally choose to give me her attention and time as we grow, but I am not entitled to it.

This is of course not a statement about the details of living in the same space. Splitting rent is a compromise, doing ones own dishes is a compromise, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josie View Post
Moving through and constantly evolving, changing and broadening yourself despite the pain and stress it can cause, is not something that I would call selfish.
Challenging your intellectual and emotional comfort zone is a good thing. Kudos to you for going down that path.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josie View Post
Sure, push to shove people will 'handle' their emotions, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a general relationship trait that you don't want your partner to be in pain and that if you can help without it encroaching on your own needs - you generally do it.
I consider both of those statements to be perfectly in line with my view.
1. An adult is capable of dealing with their own feelings
2. Concern for others leads us to help them when doing so does not encroach on our own needs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josie View Post
I could have said "You're an adult, I'm sure you can handle your own emotions", but no, I put down what I was doing for the moment and gave him a hug and did my best to help him out. He was hurting, perhaps it was inconvenient for me to help him out and give him what he needed, but it didn't encroach on my needs and it helped him out.

I don't think I could ever be in a relationship where the mantra dictated that just because I was an adult that I wasn't entitled to some help every now and again if I was struggling.
The mantra does indeed state that I am not entitled. Entitlement is fundamentally repugnant to what I consider to be a healthy relationship.

The statement that an adult is capable of dealing with their own emotions is simply a worldview axiom. The conversation starts there, with me. It informs my view of compassion, loyalty, honesty, tenderness, etc. IV is not beholden to me in any way, she is not required to kiss me, to greet me when she comes in the door, to sleep in my bed, to share her dinner with me, to tell me about her new lovers... so if she should choose to do any of these things I know for a fact that she is doing so purely because she desires to do so. She is not going through the motions to sate some entitlement or insecurity issue I have. There is weight from an external assumption pushing her to act in this way.
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:54 PM
Josie Josie is offline
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I just realised, that in America (or at least a fair amount of it), that saying wouldn't actually apply to me. By US standards I'm not quite an adult yet. :P

I retract my previous statement, not ALL relationships are about compromise, but most are. When most people are in long term relationships and their wants/needs clash with one another's they try to find a suitable compromise between the two so that both parties are happy, either that or they break up.

I shouldn't have used the word entitled, that's not really what I meant. I guess I meant I wouldn't want to be a relationship with someone who wouldn't want to help me if I was in pain or struggling, that doesn't mean they have to, but that if it was within their own ability they would want to try.
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