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Friday, June 1, 2012

300

On Adding or Keeping Distances

1. After relocating, I formed a pretty clingy friendship with a woman, June. In a typical day she will call me at least twice and text several times. We get along extremely well. She is funny and bright, if a little co-dependent.

Over the past month, I’ve been having an affair with her ex-boyfriend, Greg. It started as a friendship, and quickly escalated into something extremely intense. It is both the best sex I’ve ever had (seriously, like four-hour sessions minimum) and the first time I think I’ve ever had serious romantic feelings for anyone in my adult life. I’m 27, I’ve never been in love, and I’m terrified of ending it with this man. I recently told him how I felt, and he wouldn’t give me an answer of how he felt. We had agreed in the beginning to not form feelings for each other, because of June. Which brings me to the real issue:

June, almost 30 years old, is 1,000%-crazypants-still-in-love with him. She calls him over and over until he answers, texts him constantly, drops by his apartment uninvited. From what I know (from both of them) he has told her multiple times that she should date other people, but he still visits her and helps her when she asks. Her immaturity in that relationship has made me view my relationship with her differently. She recently gave me over a week of the silent treatment because of a simple misunderstanding. I’ve pulled back from our friendship, but her constant calling makes it difficult.

Here’s my question — am I crazy for getting involved in any of this? Am I kidding myself into thinking there is any future with a man who won’t cut off from his ex? Am I horrible for putting my happiness over my friend’s feelings?

Oh, girl. I am afraid you have gotten yourself into a mess, for heart/vagina reasons. You are kidding yourself into thinking there is any future with this man. You've been screwing him for a month, and I get that the sex is incredible, but this is not even a relationship yet. You have strong feelings for him, which he does not reciprocate — if he did, he would have said it. June is not the real issue here. She is AN issue, definitely, and she's another relationship you should probably end, but she's not your issue with the guy. Your issue with the guy is that he's not looking for a relationship with you. Maybe he's just currently gun-shy after being involved with crazypants June, maybe you could reconnect in six months or a year and have it work, but I doubt it. If he were interested in dating you, he would have been open to “feelings,” and either one of you would have told June what you're doing. 

Honestly, even if you “put [your] happiness over [your] friend's feelings,” I will bet you $5 that it won't last six months with that dude. He doesn't know how to end a relationship, if he's still hanging out with June when he claims he doesn't want to, and he doesn't know how to start one, either, if this situation is any indication.

And June! She is a hot mess.

But lady, on the real: you need to meet more people. You moved to a new place and got involved in two intense, but unhealthy, relationships. Figure out a way to open up your social circle and get a little distance here. I'm sure it feels like enough to have one friend in constant contact and marathon sex sessions with some dude, but that is not enough of a social life, and I think if you spent more time talking to people who are neither June nor this guy, it would be easier for you to see what's wrong with this picture.

2. I got married less than a year ago. My (now husband) was fairly open with me about stuff that usually I would be horribly deterred by at the beginning of a relationship; such as stories of his sexual conquests, some crazy sex stuff he'd done, and the fact that when he was first banging me, he was also banging a married chick who was a swinger.

Now, lady, I have some horrible self esteem issues, so as the relationship progressed, and he was only banging me, I got incredibly self conscious about his borderline pornographic history versus my very missionary history. Over the span of a couple of years, I've kinda recovered.

Then, all of a sudden, despite my telling him I didn't want to go, he decided to take a job in another city. I should mention he had a job here. And another job offer here. He didn't NEED the new job. I have obligations that will keep me in our current city for at least five months. He now thinks we can handle five months of long-distance, and all the feelings of inadequacy have bubbled back up. All I can think about this time apart is that he going to cheat on me. Also, can we talk about the fact that he took a job in another city despite me telling him I didn't want to go!?!?

Really this is two-fold. Number one: can a newlywed relationship recover from someone being so selfish, what with the ignoring-my-feelings-and-taking-the-job-anyway thing? And number two: how can I handle the time apart when every night I'm going to be obsessing about what he is doing and who he is with? How do we survive this?!

Oh dear. The only way you and your relationship will survive this is by talking. You have got to talk to your husband about how you're feeling, and maybe talk to a therapist as well. I don't think it's a great sign that he took this job, after you expressed concerns about his moving away, but don't think it's necessarily the worst, either. If the job is amazing in some way, or the city is a place you have both talked about wanting to live ... I don't know, but there could be factors. If he's been monogamous with you for years, he could very well be perfectly happy with that and not interested in sleeping around, regardless of geography. But you will only know that if you talk to him about it — explicitly — and listen closely to his answers. Talk to him about your fears and again, listen to how he responds.

This is where I think a professional might come in handy — a therapist (or similar) should be able to help you sort through what he's saying, what you're hearing, and how you feel about it. If you don't trust him, obviously that's not a good sign, but there's a world of difference between not trusting him because he's untrustworthy and not trusting him because you're insecure.

And then, when you're apart, talk more. Talk on the phone or Skype, or whatever, but not just texts. See each other as often as you can. Do not sit at home making yourself crazy — get out of the house. Hang out with friends, serve at a soup kitchen, join a bell choir, whatever it takes. People make long-distance work, especially when it's time-limited like this is, when they're both committed to it.

I don't know if your relationship will make it, but I know it only has a chance if you work on it together, and also on yourself. If it doesn't work out, you should be able to feel like you gave it your best shot.

Good luck, lady.

3. I would like some advice about communicating with my mother. The backstory: I am in my early 30s and live on the other side of the country from my family. I speak to my mom once a week and see her a few times a year. I know she would like our relationship to be closer.

The issue for me is this: I love my mother very much. She is a remarkable person in many ways, but there are various things that I find incredibly trying. She has a terrible temper — if she experiences even a slight frustration, she blows up in utter rage at whoever she thinks is to blame for it, including me or (more often) my dad. She sees this response as entirely justified. She also, often, seems to see herself as the victim in life, or as the sole competent person in her work, family, hobbies, etc., and her stories frequently are built on this theme.

These things have caused me to distance myself from her, and I struggle with a lot of guilt for doing so. I have gotten to a point where I feel like I owe it to her to bring this up with her — her anger issue more so than the martyrdom issue — but don’t know how to put it so that she won’t feel very hurt and so that she won’t immediately switch into defensive-mode; she does not handle well anything that she even perceives as criticism. (In the past, relating to a conflict she has with her sister, I gently suggested counseling and she flatly shut me down.) Do you have some advice on how to tell her that her rage blow-ups are what has caused me to put distance between us?

What do you hope to gain by bringing it up? If she's not even aware that this is a problem, it seems unlikely that the conversation will go well, or lead to any change. I mean, I guess it's worth a shot, if it's really making you feel bad, but don't expect her to be able to hear it, or be willing to work on it. She's an adult, and presumably has been this way for many years. She may not be interested in changing. The way you describe her doesn't seem like a very happy life to me, but of course there are millions of people like her all over the place.

But if you absolutely must, it may be worthwhile to talk to your father about it ahead of time, and maybe you could present a (kind, loving) united front. I would have this conversation in person. There's probably no way to put it that won't make her get defensive, and possibly blow up, but you can try to work through that, if it's really worth it to you.

I realize kids today are on the phone with their mothers constantly, but really, a phone call once a week and occasional visits seems like a perfectly appropriate level of closeness to me. It is totally fine to decide you don't want a closer relationship with your mother. You are an adult, and need your life to work for you, not her.

4. Two of my close friends have become more than friends, which would be all rainbows and unicorns ... if she wasn't married.

The three of us used to always hang out together, and I would often hang out with one or the other. It's been almost a year since the affair began and I just can't handle it. Nowadays I sometimes hang out with her but never him. We all work together and they hang out allll the time — at work, getting lunch, beers after work, etc. I've become so cranky about the whole thing that even if it's a big group of us hanging out, I don't have fun because I'm thinking about her poor husband at home, and how crappy the whole situation is. Okay, and maybe I've been in the husband's shoes before and can't help thinking about that, too.

I've had numerous heart-to-hearts with both of them, and they both know they need to keep it in their pants until things get worked out one way or another, but of course nothing ever changes. I've been trying to take the approach that we're all adults and they can do whatever they want and it shouldn't impact our respective friendships. But that hasn't been working. I go to work, see them, and get all judge-y and hate-y in my brain and generally feel like I don't want these two once-close friends in my life. But that sort of makes me sad! So, A Lady, what's this girl to do?

This edition of Ask a Lady is apparently being brought to you by Yo, Should I Dump This Asshole? Everybody is the worst! No, not really, and I realize you people would not be Asking a Lady if everything were great.

It is fine to not want these people in your life! At least right now, while they are doing this crappy, crappy thing, and maybe forever, now that you know they are willing to do it. Yes, you are all adults, and sure, they can do what they want, but that does not mean you shouldn't have feelings and opinions about it! It is totally legit to back away from both of them. Which is sad, if they were your only two work buddies, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. Stop having heart-to-hearts with them. They are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of what you think. So work with them as necessary, but don't hang out with either of them. It is sad to lose friends, even temporarily, but you can get through it.

Previously: On Second Chances

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Lady? (300-word max, please.)

Photo by Kirk Peart Professional Imaging, via Shutterstock

300 Comments / Post A Comment

Quinn A@twitter

LW2 : Do you WANT your relationship to recover from his selfishness? Will uprooting your life for the sake of maintaining this relationship make you happier than divorcing and staying where you are? What is he basing his opinion that you two can handle long-distance on, since it sure as hell isn't on your feelings?

A therapist probably could help you both here, but don't put all the pressure on yourself to fix this. Your dude may not be an asshole, but he has pulled a major dick move here and it doesn't sound like he's given your feelings much consideration.

Good luck. I sincerely hope things get better for you, whether that's improving your current relationship or getting out of it and finding someone who does a better job of prioritizing your feelings.

JessicaLovejoy

@Quinn A@twitter Every week there's at least one letter that I mentally archive into the "And THIS is Why I Can't Get Married" file. If someone pulls that kind of brutally selfish shit, I need to be able to simply leave wordlessly, and I've been told this is an act somewhat frowned upon within the confines of marriage.

nonvolleyball

@JessicaLovejoy true, but that kind of brutally selfish shit is also frowned upon within the confines of marriage in the first place.

wharrgarbl

@nonvolleyball Seriously. I don't understand what planet this guy's on that he considers "Let's move! I've found a wonderful new job!" "I don't want to move." "Okay, let me rephrase that: I'm moving! I've found a wonderful new job!" a remotely acceptable thing.

Megasus

@wharrgarbl My response would be, "Have a nice life asshole!" Because seriously. You don't take a job in another city without SERIOUS REAL TALK with your fucking WIFE. That is the entire point of having one (to make sure major life changes as a team, that is)!

themmases

@JessicaLovejoy I was thinking as I read that one that, outside the confines of marriage, that dude's behavior is pretty much just a straightforward young person insensitive breakup.

But within a marriage... That's really cruel. Now she has to move for him because he just left town? And is writing in wondering what she can do to fix it? Uh, burn his new city down with him in it. There, fixed.

antilamentation

@themmases Yeah. Dude just seems to have decided that he can make a unilateral decision and she'll fall in with his plans even if that's not right for her, or she doesn't want to do it. Either that, or he doesn't care if she does come with or not - which is even worse.

She says she has bad self esteem. I wonder if he's taking her for granted. That might fuel fears she has about if he'll cheat on her - which may or may not be accurate. It could be this is one area where he won't stray, and he will stay faithful. But in another way, he's already strayed by deciding to forge ahead with the new job without getting her on board with him first. It's not a good sign. It does seem immature at best, and callous at worst.

I would wonder about both of them getting couples therapy, to explore expectations in the relationship.

redheaded&crazy

Let's all commiserate about losing friends who act in ways that are unacceptably awful/disrespectful/insensitive/thoughtless/callous/imtotallyrepeatingmyselfhere

it's great!

nope it's awful.

but it's worth it.

SarahP

@redheaded&crazie I went through a friend breakup a few years ago, and it was the worst, but it seriously made my life better.

avoidmadness

@SarahP You have to think, if they're willing to do something so heinous to their partner, what are they capable of doing to you. Blah, cheaters.

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP yeah i'm gonna struggle with this one for a while. but i'm mostly in a place of calm acceptance now. the crying in my car unwillingness to accept stage ended tuesday!

MoonBat

@redheaded&crazie Brilliant 'Pin friend(s), do you think it is ever alright to fall for the lovely boy that your friend cheated on? And if so, and the cheater is still a friend, and it's been years since the divorce, how would one tell the cheater friend that you're now happily appreciating what they didn't? Asking for a Friend, of course.

Litebrite Idea

@redheaded&crazie Letters like this remind that it's worth it despite the pain of letting go of people determined to be their worst selves! So looking forward to weekend activity with my friends who don't manufacture weird drama and whose relationships, friendships, and flings are all of the respectful/thoughtful/considerate kind!

stonefruit

@redheaded&crazie I am going to be having my Institution Of Boundaries talk tonight with crushboy. My sense is that maybe we will handle it spectacularly well, but more likely it will turn out to be an Institution Of Boundaries And Also Unfriending While We Are On The Subject Of How The Two Of Us Should Interact In The Future talk :(

TheUnchosenOne

@redheaded&crazie And siblings! My brother and I are currently on the outs because he said some seriously racist and sexist things, and I called him out on it, and he didn't like it and also tried to justify it. Also it made him so mad he threw a chair at me.

redheaded&crazy

@MoonBat I think it's alright. Seems to be the general consensus around here that you can't call dibs on people like they're property.

I would not phrase it "I'm appreciating what you didn't" though :P

@Litebrite Idea ME TOO! ME TOO ME TOO ME TOO (looking forward to a weekend free from unrepentant douchiness)

@stonefruit good luck and good call. i really need to work on having more institution of boundaries talks in my life. (like, in advance of shit going wrong.)

stonefruit

@redheaded&crazie best advice so far from a friend who is au courant on my situation: "your opening move is: so how about you stop acting like my boyfriend if we're not actually gonna do that?" It's both a strong opening move and a lighter way of broaching this issue than "DUDE NO NO NO NO WITH THE COUPLEY STUFF"! She is brilliant.

@TheUnchosenOne are you a rampaging lion? because otherwise chair-throwing is right out.

redheaded&crazy

@TheUnchosenOne a) yikes!

b) yiiiiikes.

I've had to do a dece amount of friend trimming in the past year and it makes me feel pretty good about myself. I really make a serious effort to show my friends I care about them, like all the time, especially in the wake of my awful breakup of awfulness. And so when people don't indicate they value my friendship in return, I'm sorry, you don't deserve the quality of friendship I give to people.

MoonBat

@redheaded&crazie Awesome. You are awesome. And yeah, I can be a tad more diplomatic, when the time comes to talk about it.

@TheUnchosenOne Unless your brother is 12 or younger, throwing a chair indicates problems more serious than misogyny or racism. Okay not more serious, but separate and certainly on par with.

TheUnchosenOne

@MoonBat While dating a friend's ex is generally frowned upon, I think that they are not allowed to be upset about it if they cheated on said ex. Go for it!

SarahP

@redheaded&crazie Oh noooo were you the broken-up-with? I'm sorry, that's even harder. (I think another friend is in the process of breaking up with me, but he's doing it in that weird way where they just stop answering your calls/emails/texts, and he has prolonged it so much that I'm maybe not hurt anymore, just mystified.)

@MoonBat Yeah, no dibs on people unless they are literally taken as in "in a monogamous relationship." BUT why would you tell the cheater? Are you your friends just doing it to make the cheater feel guilty or something? Don't do it! Word gets around on its own (or on facebook), so don't risk sounding petty by bringing it up for no reason.

redheaded&crazy

@TheUnchosenOne good point as well about the cheating. I mean, dating an friend's ex may make things uncomfortable for a while, so I think it's important to think very carefully about what you are getting into and the possible consequences (positive and negative) and whether they are worth it.

to be clear, it's important that BOTH PARTIES DO THIS *cough cough* *life falls apart*

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP ahhhh it's kind of complicated, I shouldn't really be getting into it on the internet (speaking of instituting boundaries) but i wasn't treated very well by one of my closest friends, and it's like, a pattern that has developed over the past few months. so i've been struggling with reconciling all of that.

SarahP

@redheaded&crazie Hahaha ohhhh boundaries. I'm generally about halfway through typing a really intimate comment when I realize "UM, as much as I love the Hairpin, I don't think I want the Internet to know this. Nevermind!"

Litebrite Idea

@TheUnchosenOne So many Pinners sharing my stories today! Yes, I totally know the brother troubles of the violent kind so worrisome I've had to pretty much cease contact.

@stonefruit Good luck on the talk! Always remember that you deserve respectful relationships that give you a full voice and that you can share in front of the world and that make you happier! (Yes, I know how Crushfriends can be very drug-like and the dopamine trip can dull our big-picture thinking about what's best for us!)

MoonBat

@SarahP and @redheaded&crazie: It has absolutely nothing to do with the cheater, I knew him first (introduced them, actually), it's been years and we're all friends now in a distant, we-all-live-in-separate-states way, and yeah he's totally worth it.

TheUnchosenOne

My brother is 23-Goddamn-years-old. Also I am not a lion.

The best part is my mom called a couple days later trying to convince me to patch things up, as though I could have possibly done anything short of assaulting him myself to provoke it (which I didn't and there are three witnesses to back me up on this). Oh moms.

ANYWAYS back on track: dating a friend's ex! Usually not a good idea? How good friends are you with this person, how much do you like their ex, how long has it been, and how did the breakup go down? TRICK QUESTIONS because the answers don't matter: you should talk to them about it. If they aren't cool with it that's when you need to start thinking about the answers to the first two.

chartreusan

@redheaded&crazie

I'm going through a friendship... downgrade? I think? It's like my two best friends got together and decided to take our relationship from OMG BFF-4-EVA to old pal from school that they see sometimes, when they can spare time from all of their awesome fun hanging out without me. It's like a break-up in that I've gotten amazingly drunk and cried over it a lot (and can I just thank the technology gods that Siri doesn't understand my commands when I demand that she send "WHYYY DO YOU HATE ME NOWWWWW??" texts at 2 AM?), but I haven't confronted them because none of us are any good at confrontation, and they're doing it in such a skillful, drama-free way that I am, of course, going to come off as the crazy one. So... I guess what I'm saying is that I hope that by being calm and accepting and trying to get out there and cultivate new friendships, I'll realize that I'm better off without them in a little while? Because if they're willing to send me clear-cut messages like hanging out together without me on my birthday, but not to actually make an effort to fix whatever's broken with our friendship (after ten years!), clearly it's just time to move the hell on.

Right?

MoonBat

@TheUnchosenOne Oh, enabling moms, actually. I'm sorry, that is a horrible thing to deal with. I am not particularly close to my sibling, but I cannot imagine her ever getting violent with me, or how I would deal with that. Not well, I'm certain.

redheaded&crazy

@chartreusan RIGHT! It hurts to move on, believe me I'm terrified at the thought/possibility that my friendship is broken forever here. But think about your sanity! Think about if you deserve that kind of treatment on your birthday!

Plus I think it is really good no matter what to cultivate new friendships. It's a skillset! It's a valuable life skillset. And it's summer, so it's a really great time to be doing that kind of thing.

TheUnchosenOne

@MoonBat I don't think she really knew what had happened? She certainly seemed a little less gung-ho on the whole "making peace" thing once I explained that no, we didn't just argue, dude threw a chair at me.

Litebrite Idea

@TheUnchosenOne That's something. My mom (also with the explosive rage - see below) saw what my brother did and is still encouraging us to patch things up. The philosophy seems to be "Love means taking someone's explosive rage because it's just so darn justified because we hurt so much" Ummm...not so much...

themmases

@MoonBat Yeah, the only dibs on an ex worth respecting are "My friend is still in love and this would be painful for her," because people don't run around causing pain to their friends unless that whole friend thing was really getting old somehow. Not all dibs all the time forever.

And even if your friend is still feeling bad, "I regret my shitty behavior" isn't really a sympathy-qualifying bad feeling.

slutberry

@TheUnchosenOne I don't THINK of myself as a lion...

MoonBat

@themmases THIS. You put it so perfectly! There is no lingering <3 from either for the other, and they've both dated several people since the split. AND she knows that he and I are close friends, and have been for years.

insouciantlover

@MoonBat I think that sounds wonderful, personally.

MoonBat

@insouciantlover Me, too. I'll let you know how it works out. He's visiting in a month to house- and job-shop here in my state. He has a brother here and lived here before, so he's happy with the idea overall.

scully

Ooh I'm a little disappointed in the response to LW #3 as I probably could have written this letter myself and was really looking forward to some magic bullet advice. I can't speak for the LW, but would I would hope to gain by bringing it up is a closer, less-fraught relationship with my mom and maybe a few less feelings of guilt over the situation. However as A Lady says, maybe that's wishful thinking at this point. Anyone else have some experience in this area??

Ophelia

@scully Yeah, having exactly this issue with my husband's sister. He basically decided that he's going to distance himself from her, which I completely understand, but we're torn about how to do that distance in a relatively constructive way, and also still maintain a relationship w/our niece and nephew. Blergh. I have no advice, though, as we're still trying to navigate these eel-infested waters.

ama
ama

@scully My mom is sort of like that: lower the rage a bit but up the anxiety A LOT. A wonderful therapist pointed out to me that my mom had this anxiety/rage and needed to relieve it, so she pushed it on me, to which I either played along or pushed it elsewhere (SO, coworkers, etc.) Now when she gets like this, I try to just not accept that behavior. I (try to) remain calm and if she remains crazypants, I just tell her I have to go. I'm able to do this about 80% of the time, and it has gotten better. Better, but not perfect.

Litebrite Idea

@scully I could have written this letter too. I have tried all sorts of ways over the years. Things are best when I take on the "responsible parent" role, but since mine isn't dealing with and probably will never deal with the explosive rage and blame, I no longer feel guilty for only talking a couple of times a month and visiting a couple of times a year. I love her but recent events have triggered another round of self-esteem issues and I'm determined to find healthy, fulfilling, not-scary love in my life!

carolita

@scully I broke up with my mom a few years after moving back to the States (we got along great while I lived in Paris and only spoke a few times a year), but then, she was WAY worse and more toxic than this LW's mom. I was losing the ability to work and have healthy relationships with people because of her. So, I cut her off. What seems to bother most people about this, is my lack of "struggling with guilt." (Mind you, it took me till I was 40 to come to this decision, so I it's not like I did it lightly.) But damned if I was going to let my mother ruin my life when I was just beginning it. I couldn't afford to keep her in my life. I suppose if I had insurance that covered the meds I would've needed to keep her in my life, that would've been another thing. But meds might have interfered with my creative process. (See? I actually considered it, for a while.)

A daughter's gotta do what a daughter's gotta do. Parents give us life, but it's not their right to poison the life they gave you. They have responsibilities for maintaining a healthy relationship with their children, and if they don't assume them, they shouldn't be surprised if their kids decide they're better off without them.

Slutface

@scully I too could've written this letter, but I actually agree with A Lady. Chances are her mother is well aware of her rage issues and it's probably been brought up to her before, she just doesn't want to change. My mother is like this and anyone who's challenged her on it, she's turned into enemy #1. I think it really does get to a point where people just aren't going to change if they don't want to.

Beericle

@carolita I had the exact (without living in Paris) same experience. I had to cut her off. People think it is this big sad thing. No, it was something that had to happen for me to live a happy, healthy life. There was no way I could have that with her in my life.
I kinda just wish I had been strong enough to do it sooner. What? Everyone's mom doesn't tell them they are slut when they leave the house? (for the record I WAS A VIRGIN)

carolita

@Beericle Hey, these six years since I changed my phone number and didn't give it to her have been the happiest years of my life. I swear, I was on the verge of taking meds! I didn't realize that the cure was simply not to talk to her anymore. My brothers, by the way, are still in touch with her, and refuse to give her my number -- I didn't even have to ask. They know. My youngest brother only goes to see her when, as he says, he already "feels like crap" or his "day is already shot." Because she can just make you ill with her venomous, crazy, paranoid, toxic ways. Sometimes I think she has some kind of borderline personality disorder, but then I hear about other people's awful moms, and they sound nearly the same, just slightly less scary. Can I just tell you that when I had to leave my dog with her and my dad for a while, my dog started losing her hair? For that matter, last time I had an exchange with her, I lost some hair, myself! For real. Out of stress.

I totally get you, Beericle. My mom did some good things for me, but the bad things just made me unable to profit from the good things. It was as if the price I had to pay for them was way too high. My mom always has to make you pay. When I was little, she'd turn my room over while I was out playing with friends, so that when I came home she could say, "So, did you have fun with your friends? Well the fun is over, go clean your room." It was sick. But that's basically the tenor of everything she does. You get a great gig, she tries to make you believe you're being suckered. You get a boyfriend, he's got to be gay. You're happy with your life? So, you think your'e better than her, then?
And yet she seems to think she's a saint, a martyr, and that everyone is against her.

Aaaaaahhhh. I'm starting to rant. Let's each go have a drink to our happiness. I light a candle in the church every now and then for my mom.

nicolesnacks

@scully LW3's mom's blaming others, victimizing herself, and taking criticism poorly sounds a bit like narcissistic personality disorder to me. If she really wants to be closer with her mother, it might be easier for her to accept that this is who her mother is than to expect change.

Beericle

@carolita Holy crap. The part "You get a great gig, she tries to make you believe ..." IS. SO. DEAD. ON.
Hey - Carolita, I am sorry you have a shitty mom. I really am, I see people with good moms and it makes me a little sad. But, I am happy for you, you were strong enough to cut her out of your life. Cheers to us, friend! I salute your (our) happiness.

lolita

@scully

Completely seriously: find a book about large animal training. Humans are just large animals.

The gist is that you reward "good" behavior and ignore (not punish!) bad. Much like ama mentioned, when she gets crazy/moody/angry/pitiful, you leave. When she does not act like that, be particularly demonstrative. It takes awhile, but will almost certainly have a positive impact.

harebell

@Beericle I guess what's sad is that the situation arose at all in the first place -- that your mom was not able for whatever reasons to be a better parent. But definitely not sad that you were strong enough to cut her off!

You guys all sound very strong to me. Mothers have a way of knowing how to touch the most sensitive otherwise-hidden parts of a person, whether for better or for worse.

carolita

@Beericle ah, yeah. For years I put up with people saying they felt sorry for me, and I used to reject it outright, and say, hey: she made me what I am. But I get it now. The fact is, I just didn't know what I was missing, which was almost a blessing. Then one day a very good friend of mine, almost a mentor to me, said to me that she understood that I had a terrible mother and that it was regretful, because most people have a mother that is a source of comfort and support to them. But there was something about the way she said it, I wish I could remember, that made it all seem so perspective-inspiring. I think she said that she couldn't imagine having to have a mother like mine, and that she felt very grateful to have had her good mother. I think she also just said that I was one of the ones who would have to manage without a wonderful mother and that she thought I was doing well. Maybe I'll have to ask her to have that little talk with me again. It was soo good. I just know that I felt as if just having her understand what I didn't have, without making me feel as if I were a charity case or a selfish daughter, made me feel a lot better.

Litebrite Idea

@Beericle @carolita Yep...a usually sad person in my family is very happy lately and my mom is catastrophizing the racial implications. Aarrggghhhh!

carolita

@Litebrite Idea are we sisters, beericle? do we have the same mom? my mom's done the exact same thing.

scully

@ALL: So many props for getting rid of the toxic moms and/or mom behaviors in your lives. I really have been pretty successful in using most of the techniques listed to distance myself from my mom in the last 5-7 years. I refuse to interact with her when she is raging, I don't take the bait when she's irrationally accusing, I tell her firmly that I love her, but won't tolerate her behavior. And we've had long periods where we just don't talk. It's been a few years now that we've been on a pretty even keel, but I feel so guilty about not being closer to her. We were SO close when I was a kid. And as I mentioned downthread I have a daughter of my own now and so I'm starting to worry that this might happen to us. Even though putting into practice what I've learned PLUS support from my awesome husband will I think really make my relationship with my daughter different. Sigh. I just want to be one of those daughters who wants to have lunch or go shopping with her mom instead of dreading it.

Summer Somewhere

@everyone I also have a mom like this. I had no idea this sort of behavior was so common. My mother was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and now I'm scared she's going to die while I'm out of contact with her. I'm still so angry with her about so many things, and I know we can't talk about them, so I feel stuck.

Litebrite Idea

@carolita I read your stuff and feel like we're sisters! But you have a way different story than my sister and my sister has a different beverage of choice than beer. Wouldn't be surprised to see her on here but she's more of a fan of a different site.

Beericle

@carolita Ah, I was going to ask if we were sisters. The problem is, my mom did a number on my sister too - but my sister is still in touch with her. (I moved out when I was 16 to get away from my mom) Mom told sister if she moved out Mom might kill herself. Ah .. good times. Clearly, I had a totally normal childhood.

carolita

@scully I never was close to my mom, as she started on this awful behavior around the time I was six or seven, I think. Anyway, I have only a few tender memories of her, and they all seem to date from before I began to be a person in my own right, if you get the picture. I have memories of her being funny, making word jokes, telling me stories about her own bad behavior as a young woman, teaching me to read and write quite early, and even telling me I was smart: and then all of a sudden it was like, WHAM, and she became this unbelievable monstrous woman, telling me that I ruined everything I touched, jinxing everything I did, trying to poison my friendships. Maybe she just didn't like losing me as her only friend when I started going to school and making friends outside the house? Something that's perfectly natural, I might add? I'll never know. Sometimes I wonder if she'll call me to her deathbed one day, and tell me what the hell happened. But seriously, it all started so early in my life that I don't even miss her. Sometimes I think of a few laughs we've had, and I try to just be content with that. You know? Almost as if she were dead already, and I were grateful for the few good times we did have. Sometimes I feel angry because I feel like she let herself become this awful thing that took away my fun and loving and safe mom, the one I was just starting to get to know when she disappeared.

But really, there's no reason for you to become your mom. You shouldn't worry about it. Just be yourself, and play it by ear. There's no guarantee you'll be close with your daughter when she grows up, but there's every possibility you'll be welcome in her life.

carolita

@Beericle My little brother kicks himself when he remembers not taking an opportunity in PA because he felt like everyone was abandoning my mom and he had to be the last one to care. It's sad, because she doesn't appreciate it at all. It's not like we don't care, we're just running for our lives, emotionally.

T A@twitter

@scully I have similar issues with my mother. I used to try to work it through: heartfelt letters, therapy, etc.

You can't change people. The only thing that has saved my sanity is the acceptance that we don't have a bad relationship, she's just an unstable person. Nothing I can do will ever turn our relationship into one that makes us happy. It's best to just accept people as they are, and walk away when the screaming starts.

I give her space, and we pretend her tantrum never happened. It was hard at first, but I didn't want to end up with a relationship so poisonous that I would be glad when she was dead.

We're not hallmark-cute, but at least we're civil.

redonion

@carolita I identify so much with what you said - both about not knowing what you were missing (I cannot imagine having a close relationship with my mother nor can I picture the person I would be if I had such a relationship - surviving my mother essentially forged my identity), but also your comment about not feeling like a charity case or selfish. I've never really talked to anyone about my mother (apart from my sister, whose relationship with my mother is messed up in its own codependent way) because I don't want sympathy and I don't have any interest in repairing the relationship, and it seems really hard for people to understand that. This thread has been weirdly great for me.

sony_b

@scully Yes. Don't Shoot the Dog completely changed how I deal with people like this, and made me a much better teacher as well.

Sea_Clearing

@redonion There's a difference looking for sympathy and pity, though, isn't there? I mean, obviously I am not trying to tell you what to do, but I was in a similar position and started seeing a therapist and then talking to people in my real life about it and it helped me SO MUCH. Because it does suck, and it is unfair! Your mom's not supposed to be like that! Which doesn't mean I sit around being all self-pitying all the time, because that's not productive and loads of people have shitty parents. But I tend to think things just fester if you never talk about them (and I speak as somebody whose tendency has historically been to never talk about anything). Which is stupid, and terrible. #deep

hotdog

@everyone My mom used to be very much the same. Cleaning days were filled with fear, everything I did was wrong, etc. etc. THEN she went on anti-depressants. Then everything I did was pretty good, but every once in a while she would still go wild. Then my cousin died, unexpectedly and suddenly, at 27, and she and my aunt (my mom's sister) had been arguing the night before. Then I moved 6 hours away. I'd be hard up to find a more supportive mother at this stage of the game. People can change (I mean, I have, too!), but it takes a serious shock to the system and a willingness to listen. I mean, she still never apologizes for anything, ever, so there's that.

carolita

@redonion "surviving my mother essentially forged my identity" yes, I can relate to that in many ways. I'm glad to share if it helps. I'm having a lot of trouble getting around to writing a piece about my mom, and these comments help untangle things in my mind, if only one string at a time. That's already progress!

Happy Friday! I'll drink to all us mom-survivors tonight! Hugs all around.

scully

@carolita Such a beautiful response to my concern there at the end. And yes, I think some moms (and dads for that matter - don't even get me started!) have trouble when we're not their little babies anymore. Especially if your mom sees you as competition on a woman to woman level. I think my mom really struggled with letting the child me go and never quite got the adult me. For one thing the child me was much more pliant, apologetic and wrapped up in her world view. The adult me says, 'sorry not getting on that train.' Anyway thanks for your insightful comments about my relationship with my own daughter. You've made me feel a lot better!

Bambi

@carolita It's funny. I see myself as a survivor of my mom, but there came a point when I didn't want to just survive, I wanted to live and be free. In order to do that, I had to let go of (most) of my anger at my mom and how crappy she was at being a mom. It's not perfect, she can still push my buttons, but I've accepted that she's a pathological liar who blames us for her unhappiness and that she really needs to be back on her meds. I've put up quite a wall against my mom and in a way, it made her try harder to be nicer to me. So now we have these awkward 4 times a year phone calls, where she's all chipper and I try and be civil. It's better than it was, so that's something. And I totally understand the people judging thing. People with semi-normal to normal relationships with their moms don't understand that you have to walk away to survive. It doesn't make you a bad daughter or selfish (this took me a long time to come to terms with). We don't choose our family, but we sure as hell can choose whether or not to interact with any of them. And poison is poison, regardless of whether or not it's coming from your mom.

I always wanted to see someone on Oprah with a crazy parent, mainly so that other people out there in the same situation would understand that they are not alone. It seems like you are, but you aren't. It wasn't until I met another woman who had a similar issue with her mom that I felt better about my situation (even though I have sisters).

carolita

@Bambi No, of course one cannot be solely defined as a survivor of anything, so that's wise. But not everyone like us has reached that point yet, which is why I preferred to just say I could relate. It can take a while for that, "OMG, I've survived," to transition into, "Okay, what's next for me? What's my second novel?" so to speak.

My mom would try to make up with me, and even say things like, "I promise, I'll be good this time." But then as soon as she had me in her clutches, she'd strike again. It was like it was involuntary or something. She just can't stop destroying relationships. It's very sad. It also meant that, for the longest time, I had no experience in maintaining relationships. You know how you learn to cook from watching your mom? It's the same with learning to have a healthy relationship. I had to learn that on my own, and it took me a very very long time. So anyone out there worried about if it's even possible -- be patient. It can happen. I'm still quite a loner, but I'm lucky to have a very experienced BF who is very patient and supportive. He's taught me a lot. So did a few friends I met before him. Perhaps it just takes time to eventually meet or be ready to meet the people who will guide you, be your real friends instead of people who enable you to relive your past traumas to the point of exhaustion. I'm very grateful for these new and improved people in my life. :)

angelene

@Summer Somewhere A friend recently lost a parent, having cut off contact with them years ago, and didn't get to see them before they died, so it does happen - she found it distressing, and felt very complicated grief, but thinks she's mourning more for the parent they should have been than the (abusive) parent they were. This is a sad story, but I guess what I'm saying is that some things can't really be resolved. Do see your mother if you want to, but don't expect it to ease your hurt or work any miracles?

Summer Somewhere

@nestingdoll I thought about this a lot last night. Similar to your friend, I think I have to mourn the mother I will never have before I can attempt an adult relationship with my actual mom without unrealistic expectations. Her diagnosis adds an urgency to the situation, which is good, because I probably wouldn't do it otherwise.

sony_b

@Bambi "People with semi-normal to normal relationships with their moms don't understand that you have to walk away to survive."

This caught my attention, because disagree with you. My relationship with my parents is, IMHO, relatively healthy and supportive. They live far away, but we talk at least once a week and I still occasionally vacation with one or both of them.

The older I get (40 now) the more I realize how lucky I am. I have seen some horrific relationships and encouraged friends to reduce, limit, or cut off contact with horrible parents/siblings. The usual response to that is "I can't, it's my mom!" - even if it's a relatively small thing like saying you've got to go and hanging up when mom derails into a rant again.

I wish I knew how to be more supportive of friends in these situations.

sorry for the convenience

@Nicole Elena Couldn't agree more. I've been through very similar issues with my own mother. For years I struggled to try to change her. We didn't speak for most of the four years i was in college because I was so frustrated that I couldn't get her to see things from my point of view. We have had very few issues over the last two years or so because I realized that the only way to not go insane and still have a relationship with her is to change my expectations of her. It has done wonders for my emotional well-being.

WaityKatie

@Nicole Elena I used to think this about my mom (that she had NPD, but then I read some more stuff about codependency and I think that fits a lot better). Query whether your mom (or the LW's mom) has been close to an addict or alcoholic, either through her birth family or through marriage, child, whatever. It might fit! And also, I agree that distance and detachment are the only way. I wish I could have a closer relationship with either of my parents, but they are both so committed to being the dysfunctional way they are, and I know I can't make them change. They show no desire to change. They are unhappy, yet keep repeating their patterns over and over, and do not accept any criticism or suggestions. It's incredibly hard and sad to realize that you will likely never have the close, supportive parent relationship that other people get to have, but I think we just have to accept our parents for who they are, and put protections in place so we aren't being steamrollered over by their behavior. Protect yourself first, then give what you can.

laughingwoman

@Summer Somewhere I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and wrestling with the mortality issue with a parent that causes so much emotional upset. I've only recently come to understand that both of my parents have NPD. I've since cut off contact with my dad, and intended to drastically reduce contact with my mother, but nearly a week after that decision she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I struggled a lot with what to do, how to feel and whether (and if so how much) to be involved. I've learned--with the help of a very good therapist that understands these kinds of personality disorders--that it's perfectly fine to make decisions for your emotional health and sanity, and then to alter those decisions later for a period of time or for good as the situation and your emotional response to the situation, warrants. I know people who if they were told their N parent had cancer, it wouldn't make them flinch. That does not mean they are bad people, or that I am weak because I decided to react differently. It is more about really delving into how you think you would feel when they are gone about being in their lives or not. What can you and do you want to live with? Grief will be complicated no matter what. I have been mourning the mother I never had for decades now, and I will still mourn that when she dies. My husband and I are trying to start a family now, and I like to think that if and when that happens, some major healing will occur as a result of me giving my child that kind of parent that I did not have (it took so long to get the messaging I was programmed with--"You will be a terrible mother" or, variations on the theme "I hope you have a child that treats you the way you treat me"--out of my head and into perspective, and realize that because she said those things (and that I believed them for a long time) did not make them true).

My thoughts are so with you while you navigate this terrain and figure out what is best for you. Also, it may be helpful to read this: http://www.lightshouse.org/characteristics-of-narcissistic-mothers.html

laughingwoman

@carolita Word up, woman. It took forever to realize that people I let into my world and life were about me trying to replay the dynamic of my family drama/trauma in order to fix it. I am also on the other side of teaching myself healthy relationships. Congratulations to both of us for DIY emotional health!

JessicaLovejoy

LW1, I hope the eventual episode of 48 Hours is hosted by Troy Roberts. He's dreamy.

marigny

@JessicaLovejoy She had relocated to charming Whiskey Bay, looking for a fresh start and a great pair of heels. What follows is a sordid tale of murder, lust, and deception on the shores of this once-peaceful town...

Ophelia

@marigny 48 Hours: Last refuge of film noir dialogue writers.

carolita

@Ophelia Ah, but Dateline is also pretty good for that. Particularly when Keith Morrison hosts. My BF and I run to the TV every friday in the hopes he's hosting. "And so began their honeymoon of love in the sun. Or did it?.... We'll be back with The Bride Wore Sea Detritus."

lobsterhug

LW1: Lady, I know how you feel. My sexual experiences started late and were all pretty crummy so I fell head over feet for the first guy to make me orgasm. We dated for 6 months and I didn't know he was dating other people the whole time. He turned out to be a lying emotionally void asshole. Your guy doesn't seem as bad, but his dealings with June are not kosher. Get out, meet more people, start seeing other guys. Preferably ones who are amazing in bed and want a relationship with you.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@lobsterhug YES YES LW1 GTFO D(both)TMFsA!

harebell

@lobsterhug YES, dangerous, glad you got out and hope the LW does too!

A friend of mine had only dated a few men and had been in a mostly sexless long relationship. Then she met a terrible guy who was (apparently -- though I can't imagine how) very good in bed. It was a real sexual awakening for her... as she told us all in enormous detail...and she was hooked! only to wake up 2 years later about to divorce him and finally understanding why her parents, her brother, and all her friends *unanimously* didn't like this guy. The sex can give you blinders.

Genghis Khat

Well, I am a big fan of imposing social consequences on cheaters, so yeah, number 4, DThoseMFA. They have proven themselves to be unkind and disloyal to people they love, and not as a one time whoopsie, but over the course of a year. If they will do it to the husband, what makes you think they will be loyal and kind to you?

avoidmadness

LW1, run, run, run! I've been in a similar situation, sorta. The "friend" at first she was very nice and sweet but once it came out that me and the guy had something going on, she became vicious,completely went out of her way to make my life horrible. You don't need friends with low self esteem, you don't, it's not healthy.

timesnewroman

4 hour sessions does not necessarily mean good sex in my world. My God it's like the "he bought me Prada sunglasses without me even having to ask" ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!!!!

The Lady of Shalott

@timesnewroman Dude, yeah. There is a time and a place for four-hour sexathons! Definitely! Fun romantic weekend away, beach vacations, cabin in the mountains! Lazy weekend long long sexathons!

But, you know, there's also a time and a place for half-hour sexytimes before bed, and ten-minute sexytimes before work and whatnot. Four-hour sex every time is not the harbinger of good sex!

And dear God I hope this LW doesn't mean four hours of the old in-and-out, because I'm pretty sure I would be dead from the INTERNAL BLEEDING FROM CHAFING. Also my dude would be dead.

Reginal T. Squirge

Yeah, wtf? 4 hours? I got shit to do.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@The Lady of Shalott You and I were thinking the same thing. (see further downthread). And like, the time out of your day, are you kidding? Are you a stay-at-home-husband-sleeper-with?

I sort of wonder if her experience is actually more like "this guy takes forever to be pleased himself, but he also gets me off so I guess we're good cuz that hasn't happened before"????

Quinn A@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott Me too! I once slept with a guy who insisted on 2 hours of thrusting, and ow. I tore more than once; got a terrible UTI; got bored many, many times, and had to forgo sex for weeks because he wouldn't do it unless we had several hours free. It sucked.

I'm happy to spend a couple of hours in bed with my girlfriend on occasion, but I also high-five her if we both get off in fewer than five minutes, because that's pretty damn good.

Heat Signature

@timesnewroman I know, right? When I hear about four hour sex sessions (sexessions?), I just think "That sounds exhausting and maybe a little painful."

timesnewroman

@all I wonder if the "the sex is so good! 4 hours, seriously!" comes from inexperience rather than anything else. Also, yeah, the time out of the day!!

timesnewroman

@Quinn A@twitter Oh my God he sounds dreadful!!

EternalFootwoman

@timesnewroman Yeah, I really want to know--is it four hours of sex which feels good and leads to an orgasm? Or is it four hours of like, an orgasm every twenty minutes? Or is it four hours of thrashing about because he doesn't know what he's doing and is desensitized from years of masturbating? Do they have four-hour sex every time (um, @Quinn A@twitter, that sounds awful and would annoy me terribly) or is it a special weekend treat?

Also, is anyone else thinking of the episode of Buffy where Mrs. Landingham's abused orphan charges compelled Buffy and Riley to shack up for hours? Anyone?

Chills

@timesnewroman This was my exact reaction-4 hours?! When could you get anything done!! My ex was a fan of the sex that goes on for ages and i used to get bored, which is really not ideal!

okaycrochet

@Heat Signature It's pure sexcess.

timesnewroman

@EternalFootwoman "four hours of thrashing about because he doesn't know what he's doing and is desensitized from years of masturbating" That is the absolute. worst.

EternalFootwoman

@timesnewroman I know, and the fact that the only thing she mentions as evidence of great sex is how long it takes makes me worry.

Litebrite Idea

@timesnewroman Is 4 somehow a magic number when it comes to sexual stuff? I've heard several people now use this specific number when sexual bragging. Maybe I've missed some pop culture reference???

Sister Administrator

@timesnewroman Seriously. That resentment, when you're sore, bored, waiting for the end, but still trying to perform because if you don't it'll just take longer. Brought about by excessive porn/masturbation. So gnawing and bitter and I'd rather never have sex again than endure that on a regular basis.

The Lady of Shalott

@Sister Administrator I've had to have come-to-Jesus talks with dudes who are like "are you serious? I thought girls wanted it to go on for EVER and EVER" and I was like yeah, no. And one dude who was like "but my ex-girlfriend really liked it and she would come if I just went long enough..." and I was like oh, honey. She was faking to get you to stop, because after forty-five minutes of going at it....she probably wanted to die.

itmakesmewonder

@Litebrite Idea Maybe the pop culture thing is "See a doctor if you have an erection lasting longer than four hours" (Viagra commercials, 1998-present).

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@itmakesmewonder hmmm, maybe. Like, "what's the maximum number of minutes I can claim without looking like a freak of nature?"

carolita

@The Lady of Shalott I always say, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing fast! "Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am" is much maligned: after all, there's a wham for you, a bam for him, and you even get politely thanked! :)

timesnewroman

@The Lady of Shalott "oh, honey. She was faking to get you to stop, because after forty-five minutes of going at it....she probably wanted to die"

yes yes yes yes she did
oh god i think i love you

EternalFootwoman

@The Lady of Shalott So, sometimes I think I might be bisexual, and I sleep with a guy and this is what I get. Every time. It's terrible and the sad thing is they're always so proud to be sleeping with a lesbian. No, dude. No.

artsykelly

@EternalFootwoman For me four hour sessions are usually big orgasms every 20 min or so and small orgasms every few minutes. And it's never all constant PinV sex, it's usually a whole mess of fingers, oral, and sexing. I have a ridiculous sex drive and am easily orgasmic so uh. Yeah, usually I can't find dudes who can keep up with me and I swear I'm not faking.

Sister Administrator

@artsykelly Congratulations. How wonderful.

carolita

@Sister Administrator If I were super orgasmic like that, I'd have sex for about two minutes, or just long enough for my man to catch up, ha ha. Maybe I'd have spent four hours in the sack when I was 22 (I might have, at that, come to think about it), but at 47, I don't have four hours I'd be willing to devote to sex, no matter how fantastic.

Sister Administrator

@carolita Even with that kind of physiological luck I'd probably still be looking forward to the part where I put on his sweatpants and we order Thai food.

SarahP

LW4, You say you've had heart-to-hearts with both of them, but I think the best and only talk you should have with them is "I don't approve of the way you two are treating [husband] and I'm not comfortable hanging out with you guys while you're doing this." It's not an ultimatum or punishment for them or anything, but I think it's important that they know and respect your values.

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP word. stated calmly. best to make your position crystal clear.

in social settings, you can follow the PistolPackinMama maxim of RELENTLESSLY FRIENDLY DISTANTLY POLITE

you know? like, you see them. You acknowledge them with "hey how's it going" and then you move on to socialize with other people.

SarahP

@redheaded&crazie Yes, this is perfect.

Also, redheaded&crazie, I suspect you have a Hairpin crush on PistolPackinMama. ('S cool, it happens to the best of us.)

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP oh it transcends hairpinniness.

i may or may not daydream about her constantly

what can i say i'm a sucker for luscious red locks and insanely wise wisdom!

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP although really I have hairpin crushes on so many of you.

SarahP

@redheaded&crazie Yeah part of the reason I noticed your Hairpin crush on her is that I read all your posts. (Ugh I always just want to hug the whole hairpin at once!)

redheaded&crazy

@SarahP it's okay! it's friday! we can all hug it out! <3 <3 <3

(i guess we can hug it out any day of the week really)

PistolPackinMama

@redheaded&crazie unexpected availability means I saw this.

<3 <3 <3

Also, thanks for the favor-post earlier.

redheaded&crazy

*blush*

now she knows oh gosh what should i do ok play it cool red just you know, play it cool

MARRY ME?

PistolPackinMama

@redheaded&crazie Yo, 's cool. As long as, like, you don't mind if I move to another town without discussing it after having had inexplicable rages at you for no good reason. You know, once I start implying you are bonkers and not that you had a controlling freakshow boyfriend who I also bonked before we hooked up.

I just want to keep it casual, you know, so we can't tell anyone.

(j/k, you know I love you)

falconet

LW3, my mom was like that. Her rages weren't constant, but built up slowly over time, so the eruptions were multi-day affairs. Nothing could stop them once set in motion, and I took the same tack as my dad and sister: we just passively let her rage and attack us (about similar issues, i.e. competence). It was awful, especially because most of the time she was pleasant and lovely and totally the mother my friends wished they'd had. Now she's dead. I really wish I'd had the courage to say to her, in the face of one of her rages, "I am not going to discuss this with you until you've calmed down," and just walked away. There never seemed like any reason to do it when she was calm, you know? All this is just to say, if you think not bringing it up will bother you forever, then definitely do it. At least you won't always wonder what your relationship might have been like otherwise.

PomPom

@falconet Thank you. I'm LW3 and that fear of never addressing and always wondering is something I think about a lot. I feel a lot of guilt about us not being close and I think some of that would dissipate a bit if I felt like I had done / was doing everything I could to bridge the gap.

skyslang

@PomPom Absolutely! I did not have the same problem you have with your mom...our issues were different (my mom is very distant emotionally) but similarly distressing for me. I worked with a therapist to come up with solutions, communications, etc. None of them worked. Finally, my therapist said something totally brilliant to me: Not all families are close. You can continue trying to resolve your issues with your mom and get closer or you can just accept it.
It was such a relief to hear that! I was able to let go and move on with my life. My mom and I still talk, but when I feel like it. I think of her as more of a crazy, fun aunt than a mother.
BUT, I never could have felt this way without first trying everything to get through to her. Do it! Talk to your mom, try your hardest. If it doesn't work, you can let go.
As A Lady said, "You are an adult, and need your life to work for you, not her." It might take you a while to get to that point, but you will and it is awesome.

dr. annabel lies

Who on earth has time for four-hour sex sessions? Minimum!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@dr. annabel lies INORITE. Also, ow?

maybe partying will help

@dr. annabel lies

I feel both tired and pained thinking about it.

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@dr. annabel lies I know right? Like maybe LW1 and 4 hour sex dude have servants who run all their miscellaneous errands.

Also I crossed my legs...very protectively just thinking about the logistics and the laws of physics and also friction.

MoonBat

@EddieMcCandry He's Sting, and they're boinking Tantric-ly.

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@MoonBat Well that would certainly explain the presence of errand-running servants.

Maybe they're using that frictionless ketchup stuff from MIT. Alternatively: magic!

Slutface

@dr. annabel lies No kidding. I would get a yeast infection from all that friction!

carolita

@maybe partying will help she probably spends a ton on Vagisil! geez! Sounds like too much work for me! Sounds like they each need to find something do DO in life. Get a vocation, or a passion that doesn't involve their genitals?

Megasus

@dr. annabel lies Man, if it takes more than like, 15 minutes, my vag is not happy with me!

stonefruit

This A Lady is very, very pretty. Also, I like her advice.

But really: so pretty.

mabellegueule

@stonefruit SO PRETTY! I think her advice is fine but not knock-it-out-of-the-park, but yes SO pretty! Oh I did not mean for that to sound condescending.

NeenerNeener

(the actual Lady is not actually pictured)

atipofthehat

@NeenerNeener

Serving Suggestion

stonefruit

@atipofthehat I'll have what she's having.

no I'll just have her please

Heat Signature

@NeenerNeener So the pictures aren't actual photos of the Ladies/Dudes/Non-Monogamous Couples/Etc., correct? That's what I thought at first, but then so many people were commenting as IF it was the actual photo that I got confused.

NeenerNeener

@Heat Signature
Nope, all of the non-Clean Person people are anonymous, with the exception of A Queer Chick (isn't she cute?)

NeenerNeener

@NeenerNeener And I just made it sound like they're all dirty. You know what I meant...

runner in the garden

@atipofthehat PRODUCT ENLARGED TO SHOW TEXTURE

applestoapples

LW#3, my mom is pretty much the same. I fluctuate between periods of speaking to her weekly, or not speaking for months. She, too, wants a close relationship with me that I can't give her unconditionally (not to be confused with unconditional love).

Sometimes the guilt never goes away, especially if it's something you've grown up with, but it decreases significantly when you finally realize that a) you didn't make your mother that way, no matter what she may say otherwise, and b) you can't change her. Everyone gets to that place in their own time--sometimes it's a breaking point, sometimes it's finding gradual peace in being surrounded by the type of beneficial relationships you deserve.

After all these years, I finally realized that having respect for my mother doesn't mean I'm beholden to her capriciousness. You have to do you, because ultimately the point of her raising you (with the best intentions, if not the best method) is to be an adult who is capable of discerning when situations are harmful to your spirit. If one of those things is her, that's HER issue, not yours.

maybe partying will help

@applestoapples

These are the things I've been trying to put into words for so long. Thank you for this comment.

EternalFootwoman

@applestoapples I have different issues with my mom, but you're so, so right about needing to accept that you can't change your mom and are not at fault for the way she is.

I also recently realized that it's not a bad thing to have a weekly phone call. I used to feel awful that my mom and I weren't like the people who call twice a day and text all the time, but...neither of us is like that. What would we say if we talked that much? But the fact that we don't doesn't mean we're not close.

scully

@applestoapples I could have written this too. It really sucks when I see friends who have much closer and open relationships with their moms because I would like to have that too. And now that I have a daughter... well of course I'm terrified that she's going to distance herself from me someday. Even though I should say I'm actively working to make sure I don't make the same mistakes my mom did. It's just a sad situation.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@EternalFootwoman you're so, so right about needing to accept that you can't change your mom and are not at fault for the way she is. You are all such smart, wonderful people. <3 <3 <3

My issues with my mom are the opposite side of the coin - I'd like to be able to talk to her once a week, but it's more like once a month and then I fall into the WHY DOESN'T SHE CARE ABOUT ME sad spiral. But this has been an issue with my mom my whole life, so...maybe that's just how it is.

applestoapples

@EternalFootwoman I have just enough (insert a vague word here that is not as fond as "closeness" but not as harsh as "cordiality") for my mom to let her know that we still have some kind of relationship. I've forgiven her for the past, but it's hard to allow repeats in your life.

I think an important moment for me was learning that one of my good friends only really calls her two or three times a month,and they get along famously when they're together. My own longing for closeness with my mom skewed my perception of how often I need to talk/share my life with her.

@scully my older sister, who went through the worst of it with my mom, is a mother herself now. She's doing the same you are--trying to be super-aware of where she finds herself falling into the patterns my mom did (although, truth be told, she's not dealing with the same mental issues). And my niece adores her, FWIW, as I'm sure yours will.

EternalFootwoman

@applestoapples "skewed my perception of how often I need to talk/share my life with her." Anyone who has ever seen my mom and I interact in person always comments on how close we are, how we're "like twins", how cool it is that we're besties, etc. And for a long time that made me feel guilty because we have a weekly phone conversation rather than multiple daily conversations. But I've now decided that it just means we're no codependent.

ba-na-nas

@scully This! This is all I can think of now that I read about horrible moms! How can I prevent my kid from someday thinking something like that about me? I think the answer is to not be like that, but it's still scary/sad to think about.

redonion

@EternalFootwoman How do people talk to their mothers multiple times a day and text all the time? I can count on one hand (one finger?) the number of people I feel a need to talk to every day. Sure I have issues with personal relationships that probably stem from my relationship with my mother, but really I just want to know where they find the time. Are they real conversations or more like "I'm still breathing and there was a great deal on Gala apples at Safeway?" Four-hour sex sessions and daily conversations with mothers - do these people do other things?

EternalFootwoman

@redonion I think it is stuff like: Hey, I heard a funny joke. Hey, do you use cumin or coriander in that soup? Hey, do you have so-and-so's number? If you're not normally chatty like that, then you're not going to be a phone-every-day person, regardless of how good the relationship is.

redonion

@EternalFootwoman Yeah, I think I am just not that chatty. Like moving back to the days when the Wells Fargo wagon brought mail once every 6 months or whatever would not be the worst. Just as long as my Sears Roebuck catalogs and dime novels are included.

WaityKatie

@redonion Plus you could sing that song from The Harvey Girls about the Wells Fargo wagon every time it came. People did that, right?

redonion

@WaityKatie I was singing the one from The Music Man the entire afternoon after I typed that comment. Aaaaand it's back!

SarahP

LW2, I know you probably glossed over some details to meet the word limit, but I don't actually see how the fact that your boyfriend has slept with other people before you guys were committed translates to the fact that he could cheat on you now. This problem sounds like it's more about your confidence and insecurities than about the relationship.

BUT the job thing is a bad move on his part, and I agree with A Lady that you guys need to talk this out. Why did he apply for a job in a place you don't want to live? Why does he assume that you'll follow him out there in 5 months even though you don't want to live there? What is going through his head about all this? These are really important questions! Good luck, this situation sounds really stressful.

Slutface

@SarahP I think he assumes she'll move because they're married, not boyfriend/girlfriend.

ponymalta

@SarahP Yeah this sounds like two issues. One is that he had more sexual experience then LW2 when they met and she's insecure about it, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as he wasn't cheating, lying or manipulating people. The issue is he took a job that necessitates overhauling your whole life and moving without discussing it with you, which is not cool behaviour at all.

meetapossum

@SarahP Agreed. A slut does not a cheater make.

SarahP

@Slutface I'm sure you're right, but he's being ridiculous if he assumes being married means he can just make big life decisions for them both without talking it out!

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@SarahP Seriously. Although I think it is definitely up to the LW to determine whether this is a grim harbinger of juiceboxery to come or, like, some newlywedded rookie mistake.

Slutface

@SarahP Oh I totally agree, but I'm just trying to think of it from his point of view. Like, "Oh my wife will follow me anywhere!"

Ophelia

@Slutface Also, I'm wondering what, exactly the LW did/said to let him know she didn't want to go? Extrapolating (a lot) from her description of herself as being insecure, I'm wondering whether she really was clear that she didn't want to go, or said something like, "well, it's going to be really hard to leave my job." Not that this would absolve him of all juiceboxery, but I do think it would change the conversation that they need to have.

SarahP

@Ophelia I was wondering this myself, but I was trying to give her the benefit of a doubt.

Ophelia

@SarahP Yeah, although I've been in this situation (although with not as much insecurity baggage), and my husband was SO EXCITED to move that he really didn't see my rather vague "meh" as "I don't want to." And it took a real conversation to work out what WE as a team wanted to do vs. what each one of us wanted to do, and it wound up being the most productive argument we've ever had (upshot was that we moved, but I kept my job, and we moved to the neighborhood I wanted in the city he wanted, which was also further complicated by the fact that he had only that 1 job offer, so I realize it was a different thing in a lot of ways).

runner in the garden

@Ophelia Yes. I think we're pretty great at communication, but one thing that has been hard for us to learn is how to evaluate when the other person (okay, usually me) has actually heard, and understood, what is said. Between #1 figuring out what you want, #2 putting it into words, and #3 making sure the other person gets it (and is not kidding themselves to hear what they want to hear) that's a lot of hard work — but necessary!

I cringe whenever I hear people say "I can't believe he did X when he knows very well that..." Human capacity for obliviousness is pretty amazing, especially when there's a big incentive to NOT get it.

It doesn't excuse what he's done, but it sounds like a good analysis of how it happened.

noReally

This Lady is a Wise Lady.

elizabeast

LW3, I feel you! My mom is always making herself the martyr, always pissed off at someone, AND constantly revising history to fit her martyr complex. She can be awesome, but also tough to deal with.

I used to think I wanted a different relationship with my mother, but after a lot of thinking and talking I realized that what I actually wanted was a different mother. I'm way jealous of people who have moms that smile all the time and are warm and who always have your favorite dinner ready when you visit. Or the people who have the Lorelai Gilmore/best friend mom! I basically just want what I don't have?

I eventually tried to talk to my mom about it, in a way that didn't sound like "omg I think you're a bad mom because..." and even though she softened up a little, she's still the person she is and she won't be changing. I think this might be one of those situations where you have to just accept that you can't have the mom you want, but maybe the mom you have isn't so bad?

carolita

@elizabeast what happened to our moms, anyway? Was it something in the water? There are so many out there like this.

datalass

@carolita My explanation for the one I know best is akin to Mark Twain's observation about the classics ('Everyone wants to have read them; no one wants to read them.') That is, there are some mothers who wanted to have had children; they didn't necessarily want to raise kids. Does that make sense? It sounded more profound in my head.

Litebrite Idea

@carolita Mine came from a family with an alcoholic father and a cruel mother. Also, I'm curious as to how many of these moms are Catholic...some things I've been noticing lately...

smidge

@datalass it sounds plenty profound right here, so, nice work

carolita

@Litebrite Idea Ah, yes. My mom is Catholic. Hmmm.

carolita

@datalass I like that. I always said, about having kids, "let's not, and say we did." Aha! I'm very happy.

redonion

@datalass Yes, I am pretty sure my mother wanted angel fairy babies who would clean the house and resolve all of her insecurities and somehow magically not cost any money. Instead she got demon spawn who made messes and had attitudes and bottomless pits instead of stomachs. The road, it has been bumpy.

datalass

@Litebrite Idea Mine isn't Catholic but was very traditional and rather devout (Protestant in the Calivinist mold).

Litebrite Idea

@redonion This.

PomPom

@Litebrite Idea I'm outing myself as LW3! My mom is a Catholic and has big-time Catholic guilt about all sorts of things. Let me also take this opportunity to thank all of you for your perspectives on this. I am running off to a meeting now, but sufficed to say that the idea of being realistic about the outcome I want and can expect with her is something that gives me a lot of pause. Also, I don't think the underlying issue here is narcissism or another personality or mood disorder. The backstory is that my mom had a lot of very serious trauma early in her life and had an emotionally abusive father, so I think the behaviors I described in my letter sprung out from those things. Just wanted to clear that up.

redonion

@Litebrite Idea My mom was raised Catholic, but not a particularly devout strain - my grandparents eventually switched to the Episcopalian church over a number of issues, including birth control, women's rights, and the fact that they were really in it for the breakfast socials and not the guilt. My mother also frequently stated that she thought she was a reincarnated victim of the Holocaust, so her own religious ideas seem more... inventive. My mother is the oldest child in a large [formerly Catholic] family, though, and I've been thinking that a lot of her issues have to do with a need for attention and reassurance.

sophia_h

@Litebrite Idea Mine came from an abusive (physical and emotional) and alcoholic family, and while she doesn't rage, she is co-dependent and probably has a histrionic personality disorder as well. I call all her stories "The [My Mom] Story, Starring [My Mom]". As a single mom with two daughters she basically wanted us to be the March family, without realizing that what makes Marmee so great is that she doesn't cling insanely tight to her children and want to live life through them. We have a really fraught relationship, partly because she has physical disabilities (which are at least 40% mental) so there's an extra level of guilt and dependence, and years of therapy still have not really helped me escape the cycle! So there's that.

Litebrite Idea

@PomPom Very interesting! Also I find it important to keep in mind that the personality disorder categories were created by the therapeutic community to try to figure out how to deal with people who didn't have the symptoms of "classic" mental illness and who didn't respond well to either talk or pharmaceutical therapies. But the thinking seems to be that the typical "symptoms" of those categories are defensive ways of coping with early trauma.

Litebrite Idea

@redonion You know I think for so many generations women were very undervalued (so many ethnic groups where you're only a woman worthy of respect once you give birth to a son!). Many women inadvertently didn't value themselves nor their female offspring. But before the feminist movement took off, there weren't great ways of voicing the severe emotional consequences. In any event, a whole lot of women didn't receive the kind of loving attention and reassurance we now are well aware is important for healthy emotional development!

WaityKatie

@carolita Mine, too, ha!

Susanna

LW1 – in my experience the crazy/stalky/passive-aggressive ex-girlfriends were not born crazy/stalky/passive-aggressive, they've just been gaslit repeatedly by the guy in question.

The guy who is still giving them plenty of reasons to think they should keep in close contact with him, possibly because he "doesn't want to be mean" and encourages them inadvertently.

datalass

@Susanna Yeah, I kind of paused when I realized that the LW's friend was 'crazypants' in love with this guy and that the LW herself was falling in love with him after only a month. Common denominator = the guy. He may just be very good at making ladies fall for him.

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@Susanna For serious. If he is still visiting her and he's still helping her out then I can see why there would be confusion. Like, no one is being particularly mature in this situation.

Also is he describing her as crazy to you, LW1? Because that is always a huuuuge red flag.

Susanna

@datalass Exactly. Beware the guy with crazy ex-girlfriends. You'll have a honeymoon period of patting yourself on the back for treating him SO well and not being crazy/passive-aggressive and then suddenly... you'll be the crazypants lady.

wharrgarbl

@Susanna Even if we assume, based on her behavior towards the LW herself, that June is completely and utterly crazy/stalky/passive-aggressive...if you're involved with a dude who's broken up with her but isn't setting clear boundaries around this sort of behavior, it's going nowhere at like 100 mph. He's not dealing with his shit vis-a-vis June, and that needs to happen before he can really move on to another relationship--assuming he actually wants to do that, which sounds like a pretty big assumption.

scully

@datalass And what crossed my mind is that he could still very well be sleeping with crazy pants friend too. He obv wouldn't tell LW and June might not tell LW b/c she knows LW disapproves of her dependency on the guy.

redheaded&crazy

@wharrgarbl "going nowhere at 100 mph" amazing

dysfunctional relationships make people dysfunctional! been there, done that.

themegnapkin

@scully but is it 4 hours with June, too? Because that sounds terrible.

redheaded&crazy

@themegnapkin holy schmoley would his D fall off or what?!

Litebrite Idea

@Susanna @dataless @Eddie McCandry Yes. All of this. I've known a couple of these - they seem to like the mindf***ing - maybe cuz' it lasts even longer than 4 hours???

tessamae

@themegnapkin I picture this guy's house to have dishes and laundry piled up, inch-thick dust everywhere and like 100 messages waiting to be listened to on the answering machine. Because if he's having loads of 4hour sex marathons with all of these women, how the fuck does he have time for anything else???

carolita

@Susanna not only that, but crazypants stalker might actually be crazy enough to do something bad, if only stalking the new crazypants girl, which it sounds like she's doing already, anyway. This sounds like a royal clusterfuck to me. I'd advise LW1 to just cut them all off, and start from scratch.

I might add that I've been in one of these messes, where the guy got soooo talked up by the crazypants dumpee that he actually began looking good to me, and I was tempted to have an affair with him, myself. I sort of did, but without the sex -- just secret friendly trysts full of sexual tension. Meanwhile the crazy ex was all over me as the last connection to her ex, while simultaneously willing me not to take him away from her. Oh, boy, was that awful. I just got away from both of them, and good luck to them.

It's some kind of classic trope in the world of unhealthy relationships. Best to avoid.

scully

@themegnapkin He's basically doing nothing but having sex and fixing June's lightbulb or whatever.

Susanna

@carolita Yep. Let it remain a folie à deux.

Litebrite Idea

@carolita "It's some kind of classic trope in the world of unhealthy relationships" I hate getting troped into these kinds of things...

noodge

i want to say something like "lw1, it takes two to cling"

i guess i just did.

ponymalta

@teenie Agreed. Not cool to call the friend crazy when this guy is totally facilitating it. Sounds like she's trying to justify his spineless behaviour by being like, "But he can't help it, she's cray-cray!"

WaityKatie

@ponymalta Also a lot of times guys who have 'crazy ex-girlfriends' do things to create the crazy. As in, treating the person so erratically/crazy-makingly that she becomes the crazy clingy spaz that he then goes on to complain to the next GF about...until the next GF becomes the ex, and in turn becomes a crazy clingy spaz. And so the circle of life continues. The LW may well find herself in the "crazy" position of her friend sooner than she thinks.

Brunhilde

ALMOST 30 years old! Still has feelings for an ex! Who apparantly keeps stringing her along! Someone put this old bat into an asylum!

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@Brunhilde It is the only place for ladies of that sort. But it's rather nice here. They let you have as many cats as you like!

redheaded&crazy

@Brunhilde seriously ... LW1 needs to read that letter over again. Crazypants June is not actually the problem here.

Brunhilde

@redheaded&crazie Come now, wouldn't think that someone at SUCH AN ADVANCED AGE OF ALMOST 30 would have all her shit together and be married with at least one child by now? I mean to make it to ALMOST 30 and still harbor insecurities about yourself, to the extent that you're somewhat immature in your relationships? Tsk, tsk..

Tracy

@Brunhilde I like that you pointed out that June's age was indicated in the question, because when I first read it, I thought, "why is this here? Is it to make June seem sad and pathetic, is 30 supposed to be sad and pathetic, is LW feeling superior because she's 27?" If so, really? Really??

lobsterhug

@redheaded&crazie June sounds like a good friend honestly. It's that guy that is completely toxic, as has been established up thread.

tessamae

@Brunhilde RIGHT. I read that and thought, "gurl, you're the one banging your friend's ex WHO SHE STILL HAS FEELINGS FOR AND HAD TOLD YOU behind her back. YOU are the weakest link."

Here's the deal. I'm betting June is not as crazy as this LW is making her out to be, more that LW's feelings for this dude are coloring her views. In fact, I'm inclined to turn the crazy spotlight back on LW, as she thinks regular 4HR sex marathons are the greatest. On special occasions? Hell yes, if done well. But marathons ALL THE TIME. I'M TIRED NOW.

PLUS. I don't like her whole tone of "I've been screwing him behind her back which is ok b/c I have ALL OF THESE FEELINGS (*cough*thathedoesntreciprocate*cough*) including that I see myself kinda as a martyr b/c I have been putting aside my OWN TRUE HAPPINESS by not telling her about me screwing him behind her back FOR OUR FRIENDSHIP. See how caring I am??"

Nope.

PistolPackinMama

@Brunhilde Oh shoot. No, literally. You might as well shoot me. At 36 I am so far past my sell-by date there is no hope.

And get offa my lawn!

stonefruit

@Brunhilde SERIOUSLY. I'll just be over here, mid-30s and single, making cobblers and jam and reading. don't mind pathetic ol' me.

EternalFootwoman

@Brunhilde I know, Jesus. Almost thirty? What a loser.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama I'm older than you. It's a wonder I still have all my teeth and don't have to wear a diaper.

Bittersweet

@Xanthophyllippa Ditto. It's amazing I haven't imploded under the weight of all the age spots and grey hair.

WaityKatie

@Brunhilde Miss Havisham, AMIRITE??? Hi-5!

WaityKatie

@Brunhilde You could at least have the decency to be divorced at least once, by THIRTY. What a loser.

PistolPackinMama

@WaityKatie Aw yeah. Team Havisham-- we who model ourselves after unstable, socially reviled, self-loathing characters from Victorian novels... our committee convenes at 8!

Brunhilde

@WaityKatie At least I was divorced by thirty. *polishes nails*

EternalFootwoman

@PistolPackinMama TEAM HAVISHAM!!!!! I am so For this.

I would have been divorced at twenty-four but gay marriage wasn't allowed in my state. Yay near-divorce!

sparrow303

LW1: "I recently told him how I felt, and he wouldn’t give me an answer of how he felt."

The hills-- you should head for them. This never goes well, and the less time you lose to it, the better. I should know.

Super Nintendo Chalmers

@fishiefishfish This. Also, you should mightily resist the urge to stay and be "cool" with "whatever" either because you think being cool will cause him to fall totally in love with you or because you want to demonstrate that you're the anti-June.

lobsterhug

@fishiefishfish Yes, get to the farthest hills you can see. That is a huge red flag and translates to "I am using you as a sex robot until you stop letting me do that and then I will do it to someone else."

maiasaura

@fishiefishfish I second this. When he doesn't reply, he IS giving you an answer about how he feels, he just doesn't feel the way you want him to. This was one of the hardest-won lessons of my early twenties. When the dude you're dating says things you don't want to hear (or doesn't say the things you do want to hear), LISTEN. Not listening is how I ended up comforting the juicebox who was feeling guilty for having just basically told me I was too ugly to date. Not a good time.

Run! Like the wind!

beeline96

@lobsterhug Sex robots with incredible battery power! (4 hours!)

sparrow303

@EddieMcCandry Indeed. My memoirs: "Life Is Not A Made-for-TV Movie (And Other Things I Should've Learned in Childhood".

karion

LW#1: Men just aren't that complicated. If he tells you not to form feelings for him, if he won't answer the question about how he feels for you, and if he continues to indulge and encourage his supposedly crazypants ex (while fucking her best friend) - he is not a complex man. He is a juicebox.

I am baffled as to what on earth would make you think there was something to develop here. There is, literally, nothing to support that idea. Is there anything about this man that you respect, admire, and are proud of? Other than the fact that he likes to have sex with you? GAH.

LW#2: Due to your admitted horrible self esteem issues, which you apparently shelved (or kinda recovered from) long enough to get married to someone, I am a little suspicious of your claim that he - all of a sudden took the job despite your telling him you didn't want him to. I am guessing there is a whole lot more to this story, yes?

Susanna

@karion (while fucking her best friend)

Yes. LW1, this guy is fucking his ex's best friend. While staying in touch with his ex.

He probably feels like he's the number one super in-demand studly dude.

charmcity

I found this Lady to be quite wise! I am curious, though -- how often do ya'll talk to your mamas? (I have a solid relationship with my mother, live about an hour away, and talk to her once per week. Sometimes less. I try to see her once a month.)

Ophelia

@charmcity I have a good relationship w/my mom, and we probably talk once or twice a week, and see each other probably every 2 months or so (we live about 4 hours apart). If one of us has news, we definitely will call the other, but from a general pattern, that sounds about normal to me?

iseeshiny

@charmcity I live about 45 minutes away from mine, see her about once a month, and call her every other week or so. I would call her more often except that woman is ALL OVER my every facebook status/link and expects me to look at hers and gets hurt if I don't so I do, but then we have nothing to talk about.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@charmcity I'm about 6 hours from my mom, and we talk maybe once a month. We have opposing work schedules and she's a flake about returning my calls/texts/emails. Although I get to talk to my dad a lot, because he's home when I call! I see my parents maybe three or four times a year, which I'm not thrilled about. But on the other hand, I think I'd hate it if we lived closer and saw each other a lot more often.

Parents...love 'em, but mostly prefer them at a distance.

EternalFootwoman

@charmcity I presently live with my mom, so...way too often! But when I live in my own place like a functioning adult, we have a long (one or two hours) phone call once a week if I'm out of town, or a lunch date if we live close enough. And when I've lived out of town, we'll visit every four to six weeks.

Lily Rowan

@sudden but inevitable betrayal You know what? I LOVE seeing my parents more often, because it's just a couple of hours at a time, instead of four interminable days. And I really like my parents! But their house isn't big.

Lily Rowan

So that said, I them at least once a week, and might talk to my mother one other time on the phone, plus some emails.

stonefruit

@charmcity I live 3,000 miles from my mom, whom I love and also like (we are actually friends). We talk a few times a week ideally, but the time difference is tricky so sometimes it's just once a week. (We talk more if one of us is Having Feelings.) I see her and my dad about 4-6 times a year between them coming out to visit me and brotherstonefruit and me going back to the East Coast.

gosh I love my mom. we just celebrated our 100th birthday with a long weekend at a fancy spa (!!) and it was truly wonderful.

/YMMV, I happened to win the mom lottery in my opinion so I realize this is not really what the typical mom-adult daughter relationship looks like.

Heat Signature

@charmcity I talk to my mom about two days a week but that does not include texts, which happen more frequently. We visit about once or twice a month. I am fine with the frequency of our contact.

SarahP

@charmcity I see my parents (who live 4ish hours away) once a month, and I talk to my mother three times a week. We maybe talk for an average of 30-45 minutes. My mother and I have conflicting schedules, or I'd probably call more often for shorter periods of time.

sugar cubism

@stonefruit Just wanted to say that I LOVE the fact that you and your mama celebrated your 100th birthday!! Am struggling on the math for some reason, but I might just steal your idea...

stonefruit

@sugar cubism we also celebrated our 90th birthday 5 years ago :) her birthday is the day before mine!

NeenerNeener

@stonefruit Aww, I've been seeing so much blame-the-parents-for-all-my-problems lately that this warmed my heart. I can only hope that my possible future kids would think they won they mom lottery with me (but I highly, highly doubt that'll be the case).
As for my mom, she was not a great mom, but has turned into a great friend, and I see her usually about once a week.

purefog

@sugar cubism I'm guessing like 67-33.

EternalFootwoman

@sugar cubism I'm totally trying to work out the math on this. So far I've decided stonefruit is somewhere in the 30-40 age range and her mom is 60-70.

But...what is her house number?

stonefruit

@EternalFootwoman, @sugar cubism, @purefog hee! I'm sorry - wasn't trying to be mysterious. I am 35, she is 65. We are exactly 30 years and 1 day apart in age.

anachronistique

@charmcity I live about two/three hours from my parents and I call home every Sunday night. But my mom also texts me all the time and we'll occasionally talk midweek if there's something like her having a big medical procedure (common) or me getting spooked by one of those EVERYONE YOU LOVE IS GOING TO DIE AND WHAT IF YOU NEVER SAID GOODBYE articles and needing to hear her voice.

RosemaryF

@charmcity I only live 20 minutes from my parents, and see them around three times a week. They have a much bigger backyard than me and I drop my dogs off on the way to work for play dates with their dog, then stay for dinner.

One brother lives around the corner from my parents and his kids are over there about five days a week. My other brother works at the same place as my father & they see each other a few times a week, and his kids spend the night every friday.

I have an insanely close family that gets along like something out of a tv show from the 50s. We appreciate how unusual we are.

gobblegirl

@charmcity My parents live way far away, but I work for my mum, so I talk to her about 2-3 times a week. All of our calls are about a combination of work and personal stuff, no matter if it's on a Tuesday at 10am, or 3pm on Saturday. Oh well.
I should make a point to talk to my dad more, though - it's just that I always hear his news through my mum anyway!
Now that I type it out, it seems like a lot, but...my parents are cool and funny! I swear I'm not codependent...

scully

@stonefruit I want this relationship for my daughter and me!

iseeshiny

@LW 2: Um, if my husband told me he was taking a job in a city I expressly stated I did not want to move to, I would take that to mean he did not want to be married to me anymore. Just sayin.

MoonBat

@iseeshiny Yeah, I saw this as a passive break-up, too.

jenjenjen

LW3: It might not be quite the same, but your short explanation was pretty reminiscent of a super-close relationship I had with someone who [maybe] has borderline personality disorder. You could do a little poking around the internet, and I would recommend the book "Stop Walking on Eggshells" by Paul Mason for strategies for positive interaction, and not feeling super guilty. My therapist gave it to me and it definitely was a useful read for putting things in perspective and making sense of sometimes seemingly-irrational activity, and helped me have productive responses in the face of rage... Even if your Mom isn't actually at the level of a diagnose-able personality disorder, it could help!

Sea_Clearing

@jenjenjen Seconded! I mean, I don't know that book specifically, but my mother is legit a clinical narcissist and reading and learning about that and how to deal with it has been extremely helpful for me in terms of understanding why she's doing what she's doing and how to anticipate her behavior. It's still very painful, obviously, since she is batshit insane and doesn't care about anybody but herself, but figuring that shit out has been ENORMOUSLY good for me, f'real.

The Frozen Head of Dorothy Zbornak

@jenjenjen My mom is borderline. This article (http://www.bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a108.htm) made my sister and I realize that we weren't the beautiful unique snowflakes we thought we were. We were actually textbook examples of children coming from this type of mother. It was actually comforting a strange way.

carolita

@jenjenjen I think it's possible that a lot of our mothers have BPD. I mean, just look back at the way women were treated back when they were young! It's not that long since women were routinely being put in insane asylums and getting shock treatments and lobotomies just for being strong-willed. The fear of shame they must have lived through must have been castrating to them. Just the fact that many of them were dependent on their husbands for social status and financial security -- or else constantly harassed and denigrated by men in the workplace -- is enough to qualify them as oppressed.
That said, understanding them doesn't mean you can be with them.

Sea_Clearing

@LW1: GET OUT. GET OUT NOW. DON'T LOOK BACK. On both counts. Maybe more on the friend side, frankly. I speak from experience.

@LW3: I kind of find the martyrdom stuff more concerning than the rage, frankly. It speaks to an inability to take criticism/responsibility for things going wrong. My mother is NEVER WRONG ABOUT ANYTHING AND NOTHING IS EVER HER FAULT, and there is simply no point in trying to suggest that she might need to change her behavior in any way because she is perfect and everything is so hard for her. I don't know your mom, and hope to god she is less crazy than mine, but I think this is worth thinking about when you're figuring out how to approach her. She may be more amenable to hearing this kind of thing, but if she's not it will probably be extremely unpleasant for you, in which case I recommend having some kind of backup plan.

PomPom

@Sea_Clearing I am LW3 -- and your concerns have a lot to do with why I have not raised this with her before. What kind of "backup plan" do you mean? I'm genuinely curious.

Sea_Clearing

@PomPom My therapist and I have actually been discussing a kind of similar thing recently - I haven't been talking to my mom much recently due to having some Revelations about her that make it very upsetting for me to deal with her (since everything is always about her! and her life is so hard! and I am so grateful to have her as a mom even though she fucked me up in countless ways! blech) and she finally snapped and sent me a really bitchy e-mail confronting me about it. (My parents are also in the process of getting divorced - my dad and I lost patience at the same time, basically, which has been... less than ideal in some ways, though kind of great in others.) I know that, in my situation, I cannot explain this to her; she would not listen. But I've got to say something, since I... really haven't been talking to her, and don't want to completely cut her off.

Anyway I don't want to make this all about me, but my therapist was helping me figure out how to kind of frame it as being about me having a hard time with the divorce (even though that's not what I'm upset about in reality) and not wanting to talk much. Her suggestion to me was to try to put the responsibility on my mother without blaming/criticizing her. I wonder whether you might find a way to frame your problems with your mother as being about you and your issues (with the ultimate goal still being trying to get her to change her behavior). Maybe something along the lines of saying that you, for various reasons, get really stressed out when people get volatile like that - so, basically, it's not that there's anything wrong with her but that you have this hangup and it makes it difficult for you to be around her/in contact with her as much as you'd like/etc. This is 100% not the case, obviously, but as long as it works, whatever.

That said, I think if I tried to have a parallel conversation with my mother (who is not your mother, obviously, but is also my only barometer for this) I don't think she would really listen no matter how I framed it. I would try to breach the subject gently and if it becomes clear fast that she's not having any of it to just back off. Because if she really doesn't want to listen to you, there's nothing you can do or say to make yourself heard. And if you try and fail then I would - presumptuously - say that you should try to stop feeling like you owe her that kind of emotional honesty. There are people who just don't want to go there and you can't make them, and at a certain point it becomes really painful without reaping any results (I know that of which I speak) and at that point is not worth the effort.

Anyway, I hope some of that helps. I'm sending you good vibes. x

PomPom

@Sea_Clearing I don't know if it's too late for you to see this, but just in case -- thanks! You've given me a lot to chew on :)

YoungMrGrace

Yo, LW1, I feel like maybe you are not coming off as well as you think you are in this scenario.

YoungMrGrace

@YoungMrGrace
Though, let me clarify, no one is coming off as badly as The Dude, who sounds like a classic asshole who should be abandoned forthwith. Let me assure you, LW1, from someone who has been there, that if you hang around you will be the June in the next iteration of this story.

redheaded&crazy

@YoungMrGrace I know! This is getting to be a pile-up on LW1 but hopefully in the good, teaching people that calling other girls crazy or believing guys when they call their exes crazy is a questionable practice kind of way.

YoungMrGrace

@redheaded&crazie
Yeah, I feel like most of us just want to help her avoid a place on that sad trajectory that so many of us have been on - you know the one. You start hanging out with some guy who had a Crazy Girlfriend. They were Just Having Fun and she got All Weird and he was being Totally Cool! She was The Girl Who Just Didn't Get It! Not like [you], though. You are So Chill and Really Get [Him] and [He] Feels Like Things Are So Great Between [you two] Right Now, Let's Not Ruin It.

And you think "I will never be The Girl Who Didn't Get It, I'm so cool! I really get this guy! I have too much self respect!". And then you realize maybe she Didn't Get It because he never actually, you know, told her, or gave her an unmixed signal, or treated her with a modicum of respect or consideration. But by then, it's too late. You're already Not Getting It. You're well on your way to becoming That Crazy Girlfriend Of His, V. 2.0, whose sad story will be related to the next girl, just the way the creepy old man at the end of a horror movie invites another group of young campers into his secluded backwoods cabin.

themmases

@YoungMrGrace Yeah, I think this was a letter that realllyyy needed to be re-read before sent.

The second part of A Lady's "distance yourself from these friends, make extra ones" answer needed an admonition to do some serious self-examination about how to treat said new friends.

morose_delectation

@YoungMrGrace About LW1....what's the common denominator in these two unsatisfying, difficult relationships? It's LW1! Not that she's a horrible person, but there's a pattern here, as my old wise shrink woulda said, annoyingly and correctly. As she backs away slowly from both of them, she might also want to think about her own motives for getting close with both of these damaged-sounding people, in the hopes of not repeating. I've been there with the weird clingy friends! And it took a while for me to recognize my part in it. (see previous reference to wise, annoyingly correct shrink.)

permanentbitchface

@YoungMrGrace OMG this. This!

shouldibehere

I'm confused about why the husband of LW2 is being selfish for wanting to take a job that clearly means a lot to him, and LW2 is not being selfish? Her insecurities should trump her husband's dreams and aspirations? Maybe they shouldn't be married, but it's unfair to call her husband selfish for thinking of his career.

redheaded&crazy

@shouldibehere this is a good point that I think would depend on the context, which we don't REALLY know.

If the husband is just like "I want to take this job" "I don't want to move" "well i'm taking it!" without having an actual conversation about it, that's pretty problematic to me. I would struggle with being in a marriage with somebody who doesn't take into account my concerns, and for that matter, my insecurities!

I mean, speaking as an insecure person, it's important not just to sit around and assume that people should always give in to your insecurity, you gotta be willing to work on it too obviously. But it's also a quality that I would hope my partner would be sensitive to, and willing to work with me on. A relationship with an insecure person doesn't have to be insecure, but it takes work.

wharrgarbl

@shouldibehere It's the "all of a sudden" part that makes me thinks this guy pretty much just decided that he was going to do what he wanted, and the hell with what she wanted. You get a job offer, you talk to your spouse about it, you find out they don't want to move, and why, and then you decide whether or not that's an acceptable-to-you answer. After that, you go back and talk to them again and lay it out. Like, "I'm unwilling to give up a sweet-ass job that's a move up the ladder in my field, and is in a city I've always wanted to live in because you hate packing books." "This is a dream come true, you shouldn't have a problem getting a new job out there, I don't want to pass this up and I want you there with me." "I really want this job, and I'm not okay with passing it up because you don't want to go. Let's talk some more about your reasons for not wanting to go and see if we can come up with ways to make them not as compelling."

You accepting the job offer and moving should, under no circumstances, come as a shock to them unless they were literally sticking their head under a pillow and screaming "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALA," in which case I think the relationship might have bigger problems than just the long-distance bit.

expattycake

@shouldibehere I don't think we have enough info to make a call. If this is his dream job and she just doesn't feel like moving because he should be perfectly happy with his boring in town offers I would feel differently than if this is just a sudden "I need a change" thing and the job is totally meh when he knows she is happy where she is and not on board with it.

shouldibehere

@redheaded&crazie This is a very good point, and my main beef is the lack of context. The important point is that LW2 feels like it was all of a sudden and that her feelings and needs weren't taken into account. I find using the word selfish to describe your partner without acknowledging your own selfishness is a sign of immaturity. A Lady is correct, that only talking will figure this out, acknowledging her own selfishness (I'm happy here, I'm afraid of moving, both, something else) and figuring out what each LW2 and her husband need and want will there be any sort of good conclusion.

PS, Maybe staying together ins't the good conclusion though :(

antilamentation

@shouldibehere I think it's about communication and consideration. It could well be that they want very different things. How they handle the difference can be more or less selfish. For instance, making a unilateral decision to take the job when she's expressed that she doesn't want to move is selfish. It takes for granted that she will fall in with his decision, and give up her own needs - WITHOUT A REAL DISCUSSION OF THE CONSEQUENCES TO HER. If they discussed it with her needs also in mind, perhaps they could compromise in some way. Even if they couldn't compromise, and it had to be that one person was going to get what they wanted and the other wasn't, there's ways to do that where it is a more mutual decision, taken by both people in the couple. And then if it was still that he should take the job and she should move, then at least he could be appreciative of her generosity.

By making the decision without her, it takes away any chance for compromise, any chance for her to say more of what she needs, or even to be generous and to decide to put him first. It's selfish because it excludes her needs entirely and bypasses any conversation about the consequences of his action on her and the relationship.

It's even possible they talk it through, and no compromise is reached. He wants the job so much he's willing to end the relationship. And she wants to stay put so much she's also willing to end it. But at least then they have tried to get on the same page, and are on the same page about the need to end the relationship because it wouldn't serve both their needs.

That's the difference between being selfish, and 2 people just wanting different things.

sceps yarx

LW1: Yikes!
LW2: Yikes!
LW3: Yikes!
LW4: Yikes!

I may need another restorative edition of "boring questions people ask when they're in happy relationships". Can we have a friends/mothers edition?

anachronistique

@sceps yarx Dear Hairpin, my mom's birthday is in a month and she never tells us what she wants except "more earrings". How do I kindly remind her that she has more earrings than she could wear in a month without repeating a pair? Or should I just get her a new jewelry box?

iseeshiny

@anachronistique Get her this!!!! http://www.amazon.com/Earring-Sariea-Angel-Jewelry-Organizer/dp/B0045J2C7Q/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hg_6

smidge

@sceps yarx Dear Hairpin, I'm getting married and my mother doesn't want to wear any flowers at the wedding, but she doesn't mind if the groom's mother is wearing flowers and she isn't. How do I force her to pin a hydrangea to her dress???

Marzipan

UGH, okay, I’ve got an umfriend who doesn’t know how to end a relationship, judging by his current entanglements. Which should be fine, I could do it; I should do it, but it’s like I have an addiction to him? I know he is bad for me, and decreasing my quality of life, and is terrible, but I just crave contact with him all the time, think about it, plan it, try to justify it. Also, I spend so much time being like, ‘okay, these are all the reasons he is a juicebox, I am so done, I am quitting cold turkey’ and then ‘okay, well, but after this one time’. I think I’d be able to not ever contact him again, but he contacts me, and it’s just like, what are you even supposed to do when someone shoves a lit cigarette in your mouth?

It’s just like watching a friend do things you KNOW are just not a good idea, and you can’t understand why they don’t see it, only that friend IS ME. If I tell my friends about him, which I usually don’t, because it is too embarrassing, I have to be like, “yeah, he is terrible, it is awful, I don’t even know.” I’ve got it covered, I am hella judgmental of my own choices here, but it doesn’t seem to help? I don’t listen to myself?

Sorry to make this about me, but, I sympathize, because it turns out it is harder to get rid of people then I thought, and that, also, I should not judge others’ bad relationship decisions because those are surprisingly easy to make. It’s so hard to unilaterally cut things off when your heart isn’t 100% absolutely REALLY in it. advice? help?

karion

@Marzipan: For what it is worth, I love the way you asked the question. It has the right amount of humility and honesty, which is what so many of the other questions are lacking. You seem to have a realistic assessment of your situation.

People do stupid shit that makes them temporarily feel good, but later makes them feel like ass. Sometimes drugs, sometimes drink, sometimes sex. Most such things are destructive in their own little way, and yours is pecking away at your dignity.

You are ashamed of yourself. So are most drug and drink abusers. There is really only one solution - you have to change your habits. You have to chose dignity and self-respect over a fleeting high that always leads to shame. Say no a few times - if he calls or texts, or if you are jonesing to call or text. Just simply don't, and get some "clean" time away from him.

You won't believe how powerful momentum can be.

harebell

@Marzipan well, I guess the first thing to determine is: is it really that bad? Is it delicious promiscuity, and you only feel bad because you think you're *supposed* to want something different/more? Is it just an adventure? If so, why not have fun now?
But, if the answer is: "no, it's really not an adventure, it's a bad time," then I think you have to go cold turkey. Cold turkey can even feel dramatic in a good way, if you imagine what you *could* be doing with him but know you aren't -- it give a hollow but shivery edged feeling inside. Cold turkey is also the only way to avoid backsliding. For me personally (though I know it is not true for everybody), the more I sleep with somebody, the more I start to care for them and to be addicted to their presence, voice, smell, sight. The longer it goes on, the more it hurts when it ends (as it inevitably must). So, better to end it now, while you can still remember the high points. Ending now = less pain, fewer regrets. Be considerate of yourself.
///just my two cents. good luck!

Litebrite Idea

@Marzipan Definitely tell your friends. It's harder to justify when five minutes into a story you could tell for hours they are all super annoyed and looking like "seriously WTF?" about this guy. NUCLEAR OPTION with no explanation, even if it means cutting out a social circle, because any contact means he will be putting a lit cigarette in your mouth. Write it down. Then you'll see on paper how messed up it is. Talk to others who have had similar experiences so you can make rules together like "No more giving people the benefit of the doubt!" Extra points if you make this rule as a result of knowing the same juicebox. Overshare on websites to connect with others who have been there. Then realize you are oversharing on websites and schedule that therapy session. This will all be very hard, of course, but the key is to surround yourself with other caring people and activities that have nothing to do with him.

wharrgarbl

@Marzipan The first thing you need to do is block his number(s), flag his emails as spam, and unfriend/unfollow him on social networking sites. After that, maybe get an accountability buddy to get you through the looking-for-excuses stage?

carolita

@karion I'm a big believer in third party applications for helping: I, for example, learned to create filters in gmail to automatically delete (bypassing the inbox) emails from people who I'd be only too tempted to get engaged in a relapse of bad behavior with. People in unhealthy co-dependent types of relationships are excellent at rationalizing with you, they're very persuasive. Even just arguing with them weakens you, lets them control your life again.

Change your number! Make it private. Ask your friends not to share it.

And, something that helped me a lot: music therapy. I bought a secondhand keyboard at the flea market, and music (I already knew how to play the piano, but it's cool if you don't know an instrument), and everytime I began to obsess over my ex, I'd go teach myself the Aria from the Goldberg Variations just like Glenn Gould. It's VERY hard! The reason that will help is that it will engage a completely different part of your brain than the obsessing part. You need to activate another part of your brain, while letting the poor, exhausted other parts rest.

I really do recommend that. It changed my life.

Marzipan

Okay, this is all lovely advice. But I think it's a step beyond where I am? If I am being entirely honest, I think I would be fine with the action of cutting-off, I can and have done that like a pro, and it wouldn't be hard - he's not pushy or codependent or anything. it's just the making my heart be 100% in it that isn't exactly working. I can not contact him, I can say no, but I know that, really, I don't want to do that? I'm not fully committed to making it happen.

I have done many of these things, write down and said out loud all of his many glorious, almost hilarious faults, and I can't conceive of a scenario where it turns out well, I don't even really want more from him (have I mentioned he's awful?), and I know it'll hurt more the more I wait, but those are things my BRAIN knows. It's not my heart exactly, it's more like my liver is being all, "Whatever. Don't care, it'll be fine." somehow I feel like it will be fine, and I am having fun, and all of it, it's okay, even though I know rationally that everyone always thinks that, I am not the exception, if you think it's a bad idea, it almost certainly is (like dudes who warn you not to fall in love with them). Maybe it's that I don't have anything to measure the hurt against, I've never made this mistake, so I have no concept/understanding of the potential for pain. I always thought it was dumb how people said you have to let people make their own mistakes, I mean, why can't people just listen and then not do stupid shit? but now I kind of get it.

On the other hand, there is a chance that he doesn't contact me, and I am waaay too proud to chase assholes who aren't into me/making an effort, so it might not turn out to be a problem at all.

PrincessBeyonce

@Marzipan Oh god we are life twins because I was you for the last year/I still feel like you on bad hair days or when I've had too much to drink. TERRIBLE guy (had a girlfriend, had an ongoing emotional and sexual affair with another woman, had weird sporadic dalliances with me as well), fucked up situation that was unfortunately as clear cut as it gets, and I could not stop. I was super attracted to him despite everything and let the manipulation, the confusion, and the being-used-ness just wash over me like a wave for a solid year. I took whatever I could get from him because it felt so delicious and withheld and unexpected, like a special occasions only treat that I couldn't make myself resist because of how infrequently it was offered.

I knew I had to cut him out. I knew it would be better for me in every way possible. But I straight-up did not want to, not one bit. I wanted all the benefits of moving on but I could not handle the idea that I wouldn't be able to be with him ever again, and more than that I could not handle the idea that he would maybe stop wanting me, in whatever limited way he did, if I stopped things. I told all my friends that I was trying so hard to cut him out but he was too persistent- no, just no. I wasn't trying. When it came down to it, I wanted to be with him more than I wanted to be a happy, well-adjusted person. I decided I had to wait until I was ready to go cold turkey.

But what I realized, after our last time together? I would never feel ready to go cold turkey. My heart would never be 100% in it. I would not stop wanting him until he left me behind. To summon a cheesy line that undoubtedly has graced countless AIM profiles and Xanga bios: Sometimes you have to stop thinking about what you want and remember what you deserve. You have to make sacrifices- not just for your mixed-up but still fantastic and worthwhile self but also for the cause of putting juiceboxes and monsters back in their sorry-ass place, where they truly belong. And as glorious as that sounds, the reality of it can really, really, REALLY suck.

Find your friend who is really good at pep talks, and your friend who hates this motherfucker just a little bit more than the others do. Let them unleash their wisdom and listen to all the terrible things this guy has done to you and probably others to help you muster up whatever rage you can. You might still feel like you're about to vom everywhere but charge on. Get a little dressed up. Have a drink or two. Then tell him, in whatever phrasing you have decided is appropriate, that you cannot be with him, in any capacity, anymore. Never again. And then leave (always always keep the meter running during emotionally charged confrontations). This will probably feel terrible and awful and unnatural and you might cry on the bus on the way home (I know because it happened to a friend).

But what is natural is not always what is best, which anyone who has tried to find an all-natural deodorant can tell you. The point is. You might not feel brave and empowered and confident right away. You might go through a few weeks feeling like someone went at your heart with the rough side of the sponge, like someone stepped on your face, like you have been punched in the soul.

Live it up. I listened to only Fleetwood Mac for at least 36 hours after I told my asshole where to go, and I cried in a lot of bathrooms. And then one day I woke up and felt a little better. And even better the next day after that. And now? Well, I bought a pair of animal print pants this week. I am in a good place for the first time in a long time. I don't feel weak anymore. My personal life is no longer in shambles. It's definitely still hard, but I am giving myself time to change the messed up, deeply engrained habits that made this such a mess in the first place.

tl;dr You may never feel 100% ready. Who gives a shit? Don't wait, just do. The right time is now. I know you don't want to but you need to. It won't feel like it right away but it will be worth it.

aphrabean

@Marzipan So this is kind of my thing, having engaged with terrible dude(s) for far too long, all while knowing how terrible they were. This may not be your thing!

I've found that we, as humans, generally only do things that give us something we want. Hanging out with this Awful Man is giving you something - it may not be the things you intellectually want, but it is desirable, or else you wouldn't do it anymore, right? (This is not about blaming ourselves for other people's awful behavior.) Ok, so towards the end of my late twenties, I dated consistently terrible dudes for months & months, in one case over a year. The whole time, I was like, "WHY are you even calling him back, after (fill in almost any miserable personality & behavioral issue you can think of)?"

At the time, it didn't feel like I was getting much from these interactions. Some decent physical contact, a slurry of drama which kept me from looking at my own problems, a barrier to any potential engagement with someone who actually WASN'T horrible, a sense of personal safety in that there was no way I could end up in a soul deadening & emotionally abusive relationship with any of these men, not like my last relationship. . . and oh. Wait. There it was. Once I could look at what I REALLY wanted, what I was REALLY getting, then I was able to start cutting them off.

So I guess this is my long-winded advice, from one who's been in a similar position: look at what you're getting from him, look hard. When what you're getting and what you want start shifting, you'll end it, but not before then. Don't be too hard on yourself!

harebell

@Marzipan okay, here's one more motivational thought that is disturbingly true and has been culled from real-life experiences:
the people we spend our time around affect us, and shape us. Friends shape us for sure, but people we are in romantic relationships affect us the most -- in terms of our likes, dislikes, habits, ethics, speech patterns, table manners, senses of humor. This guy is having a formative influence on you -- especially while you're isolated in a new city. Is that what you want?

lizaboots

@Marzipan The other advice is better than what I'm about to write. This, below, is not quite as healthy...but desperate times, etc.: I would recommend that you stop making this an issue of wanting this to end vs. not wanting this to end. Like it or not, at some point, it's going to end. Period. So the question is, how do you want it to end? You can listen to your better judgment now, or you can wait for him to hurt you so badly you're no longer conflicted, or you can wait for him to leave you. They are all going to feel terrible. And they will all, eventually, feel less and less terrible. But, as someone who has opted for option B, let me tell you, (it may seem petty, but) sacrificing the last word in that situation will haunt you longer than that juicebox does.

gobblegirl

LW3:
I disagree with A Lady’s advice here. It might be a good idea to talk to your father about your concerns, but her suggestion of “a united front” sounds a lot like an intervention. She’s going to feel that you’re ganging up on her to tell her that there’s something wrong with her. And no one wants to be lectured by their daughter. That won’t end well.
I would suggest that instead of taking the “You are like this” route, go for a “you have done this” approach. Don’t talk about “anger issues,” “temper,” or anything else that implies systemic behaviour, or, god forbid, say anything like “you always do X.”
Next time you talk to her, why don’t you ask her if something’s been bothering her, “because I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that you’ve gotten angry at me and dad for some weird stuff. I don’t like being yelled at by my mum – it really hurt my feelings.”
I think this will bring it to her attention, and maybe make her more aware of her behaviour. And, crucially, it’s done in a way that’s sympathetic and all about you, rather than about her having problems.

PomPom

@gobblegirl I'm LW3. Thank you for this idea -- I actually think framing it this way would really resonate with her. Thanks.

gobblegirl

@PomPom Good luck!

paddlepickle

Am I the only one who thinks LW2 is possibly being a little selfish too? We don't have all the details of course, but it sounds like her primary objection to him taking the job is her insecurity about being long distance for 5 months. She doesn't say she hates the new city, or has to stay longer than 5 months, or doesn't want to leave her life and friends- just that she can't deal with long distance. And he has job offers there, but maybe this one is way better for his career; I'm not saying it was right for him to take it despite her objections, but it sounds like she might not have been terribly reasonable about not wanting him to. I don't know what I'd do if I got my dream job and my spouse said "Sorry, I don't trust you enough to be away from you for 5 months, so you can't take it". . .especially if all I'd done to make them not trust me was have an interesting sex life prior to meeting them. I'd probably dump 'em.

carolita

@paddlepickle she sounds totally clingy. She can't really be happy around him (she's obviously obsessed with his past), it seems, and she can't be happy with him gone. It seems like she's all about her insecurities defining the way her husband relates to her. It can't be a picnic for him. She's got to let go. Her husband probably couldn't take the pressure and wants to be away from her. Taking a job in another city like that, so soon after getting married? Just seems like a way to ease out of the marriage. And I wouldn't blame him.

paddlepickle

@carolita Yeah for sure. And I feel like she deserved at least a 'hey- stop slut shaming your husband. Active sex life doesn't equal unfaithful' from A Lady.

skyslang

@paddlepickle Have to chime in here and agree with you all. I'm happy A Lady suggested she start therapy, because a lot of what is happening seems to be happening in her head....

Mr. Kitty

LW1: You have only been "dating" your friend's ex for one month and have already confessed your feelings to him- feelings you both agreed not to have. Seeing as how your sex sessions are 4 hours minimum, it is clear that you and Greg do very little else together. A dose of introspection is appropriate here.

You are his fuck buddy. He thrives on drama and does not care about his ex-girlfriend (kind of a red flag, no?). If you end it now you will easily be able to move on.

Honestly, I feel bad for June. It sucks enough to have a friend lie to you, but to lie about sleeping with her ex is pretty shitty. Again with the introspection.

leylusha

@Mr. Kitty
and then to have that friend talk smack about you on the internet. I cannot abide that!

Mr. Kitty

Also, is there a way for the LW's to send in their updates? Because I would really like to know what's going on with Bob and Eli.

paddlepickle

@Mr. Kitty It would be pretty darn bold for Bob-and-Eli lady to show her face 'round here again. . .

abitstormyout

I wonder if letter writer number 3's mother has unresolved issues stretching back to childhood? I say this because my Dad blows up in exactly the same way and he has a tonne of issues relating to his relationship with his shitty parents which probably won't ever be resolved as theyre both dead now. It certainly helps his family in understanding him and being able to offer him the support he needs.

Arthur Young@facebook

LW1 Seconding everyone that says delete this mofo from your life. You told him how you felt and he wouldn't give you an answer. DONE! You're facing a complicated set of circumstances, but you were able to figure out what you were feeling and to take the risk of disclosing it, even though you both agreed not to develop feelings for each other. Where his behavior is manipulative and craven, yours is strong and determined. This is exactly why you will be able to get out of this and move on to something better; he will not.

The first step is to more closely examine your alone time. Do you treat yourself so poorly that you should be terrified to leave this guy? Loneliness sucks, but if anticipating it causes you more distress than anticipating work on Monday morning, you're doing it wrong. Consider the amount of time and energy you currently devote to figuring out what makes this man happy, then turn that back on yourself. Once you're a little better at making yourself happy you'll have something to protect. Healthy boundaries will be automatic.

Also, just based off personal experience, go cold turkey. My bet is that he won't genuinely miss you, but his ego won't tolerate rejection. He will try to string you along the same way he's doing June. If there was some way you could help that lady that would be awesome, but she sounds pretty lost. If you're able to get him out of your life, don't let her be the reason he gets back in.

Alli525

So, slightly depressing question but I figured I would ask Pinners first and then A Lady...

Short story: my father left my mother a little over 2 years ago for another woman, after 33 years of marriage. She was never all that stable to begin with & has struggled with depression for many years, and of course this devastated her. She doesn't have any family outside of me and my brother, and I live several hundred miles away and limit contact because she is a negative person, critical and cruel. But she IS my mother and I know that I wouldn't be able to live with myself in the eventuality that she would kill herself if I cut off contact. (Harsh but true.)

ANYWAY. It's been two years since the shit hit the fan, and she is still moaning and weeping and lashing out and generally being a self-pitying wreck, and I am wondering if it is even a little okay to call her therapist (who I have met with once before in family counseling many years ago) and ask if I can express my specific concerns to him? I am tired of being her sounding board and source of comfort and I don't think that he has the full picture of what's going on and how this is affecting her... maybe my insights as a daughter would help him?

IDK. Halp!

mystique

@Alli525 Why don't you call the therapist and ask if you can give him outside information? Also, have you spoken to your mother about this too? Maybe you could talk to her about the situation, or at least about talking to her therapist. Use your best judgment there.

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