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Living together and Self-Love

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stark1984 posted 4/15/2019 07:51 AM

It's been awhile since I posted. Been busy with the recently moved-in gf and her 9 yo son.

I've forgotten how much the dynamic changes from "dating/in a relationship" with someone, to "might as well be married."

I've been in a relationship with this girl for over 6 mos now. She and her son moved in with me at the end of February, after her new landlord decided to jack the rent on her sh*thole apartment that he never maintained. While we were planning on moving in together in May/June, it just felt rushed.

I used to be excited to see them on the weekends, when I'd go stay with them, or they'd come stay with me.

Now, I find living with them and their cats completely tedious and exhausting. Cats get into everything and on every counter. Her son gripes about having to eat healthy most of the time and is quite "needy/clingy." I understand his neediness, because his sperm donor (biological father) left his mother at birth. He just wants a dad.

The gf is constantly on social media. She claims she's just on there for "the articles," but I suspect with her low-/non-existent self esteem, she's just fishing for feel-goods from "Likes, comments, etc." She's also become very clingy at night. I used to enjoy cuddling before bed and now it just seems tedious.

My other big "complaint" about her is the fact that every time I ask if she loves herself, as she claims to love me, she throws it back in my face with, "What's loving myself go to do with loving you?"

I know she and I have both been through a lot. I'm twice divorced, been cheated on, used, etc. She's never been married (very much wants to be), been cheated on, used, etc. Yet, I'm at a place in my life where I feel I can love myself without living off everyone else's compliments and "feel goods." She, on the other hand, seems to constantly be fishing for "feel goods," be it compliments or some other kind of validation.

Before we lived together, she didn't seem to be this needy or validation hungry. It drives be NUTS! I've been trying to get her to figure out why self-love is important, but I feel like I'm not getting through to her--either she's not interested or just completely unwilling to love herself. My concern is that, bc she refuses to love herself, at some point, she'll expect me to love her doubly--as in, basically giving up everything I am, my own sense of self love, value, confidence, happiness, etc--to love her and make her happy.

/Rant

Comments, suggests, etc are welcome.

Catwoman posted 4/15/2019 08:30 AM

I've been in a relationship with this girl for over 6 mos now.

I think I see the issue right here. You didn't really know her well enough to be living with her. Had you dated longer, I think you would have been able to see some of these issues and make a better determination on where you see this relationship going and the future of said relationship.

But now it's going to be much more disruptive to get out of the current situation, not to mention the great disruption and hurt her child is going to experience because the adults in the situation couldn't be, well, adults.

I would suggest couples counseling to see if some of these issues could be addressed, but my gut tells me that based on this scant information, you rescued a damsel in distress not realizing that all you were getting was a distressed damsel.

Cat

stark1984 posted 4/15/2019 08:49 AM

@Catwoman--You are completely right about it being more disruptive and difficult to end said relationship if I ever wanted to. I didn't see it before we moved in together. She had a full time job, was able to pay her bills, raise a child by herself for 9 years...those characteristics and abilities alone, didn't strike me that she was the 'damsel in distress' type.

It wasn't until after we moved in together, after 7 mos of dating, that these other characteristics really started to show themselves. On a weekly basis, she asks if I still want to marry her. Periodically, she'll read a "random" article or two about couples getting engaged, or she'll show me engagement rings that appeal to her.

I told her months ago that getting married is NOT a cure-all or fix-it for one's unhappiness.

I'd be open to couples counseling with her, to try and figure out how to assist her, and additionally, us, in having a healthy, balanced relationship. Rather than trying to rely solely on each other, or on everyone external to our relationship to be happy and satisfied.

Catwoman posted 4/15/2019 09:33 AM

On a weekly basis, she asks if I still want to marry her.

For the love of Pete, DO NOT marry this woman! Not now, and maybe not ever. But certainly not now. She has a lot of growing up to do.

Perhaps counseling would help. But maybe you're just now realizing you're both in very different places in life and you're just not a great match. It's a tough realization, but it sounds like this is the way it's going.

Cat

HalfTime2017 posted 4/15/2019 12:39 PM

The EXWW also needed validation. The problem with WWs, and I know you're girlfriend is not a WW, but a BS/girlfriend herself is that at some point they will seek that validation out from somewhere. If you're not providing it, or even if you are but are not providing her with that type of validation that she is needing and wanting, someone else might come along and do just that.

My exWW had low self esteem, I never really understood why. She was a beautiful lady, had a nice career, a great life and friends. She had a shitty family life and grew up chubby, but still, she had all the trappings of a nice new life now that she grew up. That longing and FOO caught up with her. I am looking long and hard at people I date now.

If your current girlfriend doesnt love herself, and doesn't know what makes her happy, that's someone who needs others to validate her and others to make her happy. Shes not a solid partner. I'd cut bait and run if you've only been dating for 6 months, that's not a long time. She and her son are already that annoying, it will only get worst over time.

stark1984 posted 4/15/2019 13:34 PM

@Catwoman -- I have no intention of marrying her, at the moment. There's still too much that needs to happen, before I consider marriage with anybody. The GF knows this, too. I told her when we first got together what my stipulations are.

She says I read into too much of everything, that I over-analyze way too much and end up being wrong. I will agree that I'm an analytical and calculated thinker. I don't want to make a move until I've observed and analyzed everything I can.

What I think the biggest difference between she and I is that, I don't want to rely on anyone else for "feel goods" (compliments, validation, attention, etc) because I know I won't get such things from anybody but myself. With my XW's affair, and the pain, heartache, loneliness, and everything else it brought me, I knew the only person I could count on was myself. Interestingly enough, my current gf has been through some garbage relationships, and yet, still trusts anyone she meets. Me, it takes A LOT to earn my trust.

@HalfTime2017 -- You're right about my gf not knowing what makes her happy. She doesn't seem to have any real interests or hobbies. At least, none that I've seen anyway. She claims her reason for that is bc of her son...rather than having had time in her 20s for self-discovery, she was too busy being in crap relationships, and then having to raise her son alone. I get that raising a child single-handed would be difficult, financially, emotionally, etc, I fail to see how that would prevent someone from developing some hobbies or interests. Anytime we go out and do something, either just she and I, or all three of us, I'm usually the one that picks the activity or destination and they just come along for the ride.

While they're both annoying, esp her son, what 9 yo isn't annoying? I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel yet...

Furious1 posted 4/15/2019 14:46 PM

She does have a hobby and interest. It's fishing for compliments online. As for not loving herself, I see that as a red flag. A person can only love others as much as they love themselves. If she fails to see how loving herself has anything to do with loving you, then that would concern me greatly.

Also, I have to admit that the old "landlord is raising the rent" bit was a bit of a red flag. It sounds more like that came up with a convenient excuse to rush this living together arrangement. One thing I have learned about toxic people is that they depend greatly on rushing their relationships along so that their victim, um..I mean their partner doesn't have time to catch onto their toxic behaviors so that ending a relationship with them is relatively easy. Living together makes ending things much, much more difficult if you do decide that you can't handle the toxic behaviors any longer. Besides, I'm going to guess that your GF is still on her best behavior for right now and that she will get worse as time reveals her true character.

F1

lieshurt posted 4/15/2019 14:54 PM

***posting as a member***

All I see is a hot mess of dysfunction on both sides. There is no way this is going to end well on it's current path. For the sake of the child, end this as soon as possible.

Darkness Falls posted 4/15/2019 15:04 PM

It sounds to me like youíre not a good match. Iím not saying youíre wrong about her faults, but I would be very hurt if the man I had committed to living with in a relationship was talking about how annoying I and my child(ren) are. No, you shouldnít compromise yourself and your opinionóbut youíre just not a match.

Tripletrouble posted 4/15/2019 17:52 PM

Well this doesnít sound like itís headed for long term success unfortunately.

I do think however that there are some things that are unknowable about a person until you have lived together regardless of how long you have dated. There are further things that are unknowable until you are legally married, even if you have lived together. So forgive yourself for rushing in, but you have some hard decisions to make especially with a child involved. With all due respect to F1 I think it may be unfair to categorize her as toxic, which implies a person is intentional or selfish in their mistreatment of others. It sounds more like she is very emotionally unhealthy, and that is not something you can or should try to fix.

Snapdragon posted 4/15/2019 18:06 PM

I will agree that I'm an analytical and calculated thinker. I don't want to make a move until I've observed and analyzed everything I can.

I would like to respectfully disagree. If your statement was accurate you would have clearly seen that moving a single mother and her child into your home only months after starting dating was a colossally bad choice. I feel sorry for the boy. Abandoned by his father and now living with a man that he hadn't even known for half a year. What kind of mother does that? A desperate one. Not one that is looking out for her son's best interests. How was that ok with you? Yes, I understand that her rent was going up, you were planning to move in together anyway (still way too soon), etc. But, was the rent REALLY going up? Did you see the proof? Yes, I am very skeptical.

I would be exceedingly careful. I see two things happening. She is going to quit her job (or lose it) and get pregnant. She already has a history of making bad choices.

Since you are already sick of her, her kid, and her cat I would suggest that you start helping her find a place of her own. Her neediness and unwillingness to learn how to seek internal validation is worrying.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to be harsh. But, you words put a great concern into my thoughts.

stark1984 posted 4/16/2019 07:19 AM

@Snapdragon -- Yes, I was made known of the fact that her rent was indeed going up, as she showed me the notice mailed to her by her landlord. Not just for her, but her next door neighbor as well; they lived in a duplex-style home. Unfortunately, she already left her old job and family (about 80 mins away) and already has a new job. I didn't notice how bad this validation-seeking behavior until AFTER they moved in with me. I picked up on it a bit, when we first met, but I didn't realize it was bad as I suspect it to be now. As far as me being

sick of her, her kid, and her cat

I believe that's just me feeling inundated after I get home from work every day. Yes, I'm sick of the cat, but I try to understand basically getting attacked, at least by the boy. He's excited to see me. My gf does a pretty good job of asking him to not attack me all the time like he does so I can get my bearings.

@Tripletrouble -- I'll agree with you and disagree with F1. I don't think my gf is being intentionally "toxic." After discussion last night, it seems to me that she and I both still have some baggage to work through, as a couple and individually. I've been burnt too many times, and so I trust people less and push people away. She's been burnt too many times, and yet still is able to trust people and not push them away; in my opinion, out of possible desperation to feel any sort of love/connection with anyone.

I am treading lightly and have further spelled out what needs to happen if our relationship is going to give us the results we both want. While she's agreed to my suggested plan of action, time will tell what actually happens. Thanks for the input everyone.

Cooley2here posted 4/16/2019 08:46 AM

Iím coming from an entirely different perspective. I might be completely wrong but this is something for you to think about. When the two of you were dating, but not living together, you were an enthusiastic lover. You were happy with her kid. The cat was in the background. You probably gave her a ton of positive spoken, and unspoken messages, about how happy you were in your relationship. The minute she moved in you backed off emotionally. When you did she started grabbing because she was off-balance. Where did that loving supportive man go? Who is the stranger that passes judgment on everything about me, my child and my cat? You need to accept that you are not ready for a permanent relationship living under one roof. You just are not. You need to sit down with her, away from her child, and explain that you two need to have two separate abodes.. You also need to be very gentle with her son. I can tell you from my training that this kid is so, so vunerable that you need to be the kindest man he knows.

Catwoman posted 4/16/2019 08:54 AM

I don't believe the GF is toxic, but she's certainly not in a good place for a live-in relationship (seeing that she is so desperate to be married) and neither are you, seeing that you need alone time to recharge and it's not something that is currently available in this arrangement.

Counseling might help, but it just appears you are in different places and want very different things.

Speaking as a parent, I would never move in with anyone on the basis of a 6-7 month relationship having children in the home. I saw what it did to my older kids and it is BRUTAL.

Cat

JoyfulMourning posted 4/18/2019 06:50 AM

Cooley2here:
"Iím coming from an entirely different perspective. I might be completely wrong but this is something for you to think about. When the two of you were dating, but not living together, you were an enthusiastic lover. You were happy with her kid. The cat was in the background. You probably gave her a ton of positive spoken, and unspoken messages, about how happy you were in your relationship. The minute she moved in you backed off emotionally. When you did she started grabbing because she was off-balance. Where did that loving supportive man go? Who is the stranger that passes judgment on everything about me, my child and my cat? You need to accept that you are not ready for a permanent relationship living under one roof. You just are not. You need to sit down with her, away from her child, and explain that you two need to have two separate abodes.. You also need to be very gentle with her son. I can tell you from my training that this kid is so, so vulnerable that you need to be the kindest man he knows."

I think this is a great an insightful perspective. I would like to add that I wouldn't peg the GF or her life as toxic. Perhaps taxing may be a better description. It appears as though she has a lot more going on than you are equipped to deal with at this time. Despite your best efforts she and her son need more than you can offer her.

I've been a young single parent before. Sounds like she's doing her best and hoping for the best. However, she has taken a great risk in trying to create a home and insta-family so quickly. She probably thinks that she's running out of options for a getting a decent husband and father. Don't be the guy she settles for because you're "better than her ex" or because "you're a decent guy", so she'll work with it. Although, I didn't move in with a guy or choose the afore mentioned options, at times I was tempted. Honestly, a man 10-15 years older than her is most likely the best option for her little family. I've seen it play out very well more than once for several young single moms.

I wish you the best.

stark1984 posted 4/18/2019 09:01 AM

@Cooley2here -- You're right about this:

When the two of you were dating, but not living together, you were an enthusiastic lover. You were happy with her kid. The cat was in the background. You probably gave her a ton of positive spoken, and unspoken messages, about how happy you were in your relationship. The minute she moved in you backed off emotionally.

...and here's why, I think. Before we moved in together, the dynamic was different. I told her, from those very first dates (within 2 or 3) that I wanted to be together a year before there was to be any sort of engagement/marriage. She was okay with and agreed to it. When we would go to the mall or out and about, we'd talk about marriage. Look at engagement rings. We even talked about how cool it would be to ask one of my best friends if he'd be interested in getting appointed by the state so he could officiate. When we moved in together, however, it changed. Almost as though she wanted to get married right away. I told her I wanted to buy a house first...do things in a logical way. I thought I told her that, however, buying a house first was something that came up in conversation with her son. That was my fault that I didn't state that up front.

With her talk of getting married so soon, it concerns me. My first marriage over 10 years ago failed bc we went from meeting to married in 10 mos---all bc we were desperate not to be alone, despite all the baggage and arguments and fights we got in while we were dating. My second marriage, 6 years ago already, went from meeting to engaged and living together in 3 mos, married in less than 10. It went VERY fast. And that was my 2nd XW's doing.

With my current gf, we'd been together about 6 mos before we moved in together, so that's already different from before. I'm just trying NOT to re-hash the past with a different woman.

@JoyfulMourning -- I don't think I'm:

the guy she settles for because you're "better than her ex" or because "you're a decent guy", so she'll work with it.

She's dated a number of men who she knew were bad for her and her son. Which is why she ended things with them. She's also dated men who were interested in marriage and a family, but was apparently no chemistry, or there were personality conflicts, or they were not good for her son. She has told me numerous times that I don't see how much she loves me and wants me to be happy. And she may be right about that.

My last marriage broke me and caused me to see things in black or white; ones or zeroes; yes or no. She sees things as shades of gray. In relation to that, she still talks to a guy, rarely, she had been intimate with shortly before she met me. She called off the intimacy and somehow returned their relationship to a platonic state, and then met me. My issue is, how can two people have sex without one or the other, or both getting emotionally attached? I've personally never experienced a FWB relationship, so I don't understand the concept. Especially if the two are platonic friends first, then decide to cross that line (for who knows why), and then again return to being platonic. I've suggested that she's afraid to lose contact with this guy bc she still has feelings for me, and every time she breaks into tears saying there's nothing there; that she loves me and only me. Maybe I'm just too broken to know what reciprocated love feels like anymore...

ErinHa posted 4/18/2019 14:48 PM

People grow at different paces and it takes some a very long time, if ever, to love themselves. When I was young in my 20's I didn't value myself at all, gave up all my power in every relationship, took every scrap that was thrown at me.

If you love her then it might be worth hanging in there. Just because she needs affirmation doesn't mean she could end up cheating.

I wouldn't recommend asking her if she loves herself, if it was my bf I would make sure he knows he is loved by me and see if I could build him up. She might just need a little extra affection right now but if you're in for the long haul then each of you might have some moments when you're down and out and need something extra. She could be in a rut as well and just need some time and patience.

I would recommend being loving and affectionate and patient. Keep your eyes open for improvements and hopefully it'll be better. If you feel in your gut after a while that this isn't for you, maybe couples counseling would be good.

If you find your efforts don't work then you might have to end it, it's hard to stay strong with a partner that is too needy. Give it some time, give it a real chance, accept her for who she is and be realistic with expectations. She's not gone through the metamorphosis that you have and maybe she just has to catch up, with your help.

Hang in there stark! What you're doing is difficult but it might be worth it in the end. Keep your strength and sanity at all costs.

JoyfulMourning posted 4/18/2019 17:03 PM

@stark1984
"I've personally never experienced a FWB relationship, so I don't understand the concept. Especially if the two are platonic friends first, then decide to cross that line (for who knows why), and then again return to being platonic."

I had a very close friendship with a male that became sexual then returned to platonic. We loved each other dearly. The platonic and the sensual sides of the relationship were wonderful. However, we were in different phases in our life and didn't feel as though we could go towards marriage. In between relationships with others we sometimes resumed our sexual connection. During other relationships we were very supportive of each other and strictly platonic, no flirting or sexual innuendos.

However, if our relationship became a sore spot for our partners that knew we'd been past lovers, we would cease all contact (which was hard)out of respect for them. Although we knew we'd never cross the line and cheat, it created doubt for our partners so we did the healthy unselfish thing of dropping the friendship. We never tried to convince them to accept it or imply that they were insecure. We kept the end goal first, which was to find a marriage partner.

I believe that when the right person( at the right time for both of them)comes into one's life they bring clarity not confusion. I am also cautious regarding mates that are "afraid" of or adamant about releasing a friend of the opposite sex. I would tag that with at least a yellow flag and neither chock it up to my insecurities nor choose to doubt my healing progress.

Lastly, IMO, you're no longer broken; you're mending.

Cooley2here posted 4/19/2019 12:06 PM

I think that your name is your description of yourself. You said you think in black-and-white and she thinks in gray. Believe it or not, that can work in a marriage. That description is my husband and me.
I think there is something you need to go to a therapist about. You keep setting yourself up for relationships that do not work. It might look from the outside, because you were cheated on, that it is the other personĎs fault. Perhaps no one is at fault. Perhaps the relationship never got off the ground because expectations and reality clashed. You need to work on yourself, not because you are a bad guy, but because you keep setting yourself up for these kinds of relationships. You need, and deserve, happiness and you donít seem to be getting it doing things the way you are doing them now. Find yourself someone who recognizes a black and white thinker and can work with you. Good luck.

annanew posted 4/19/2019 13:12 PM

Let's not get carried away with the kid being "abandoned by his father". That happened at birth. The boy doesn't know what he is missing, literally.

I am single mom to a nearly 6 year old. She doesn't have some gaping hole in her heart because of the absence of someone who was never in the picture. It's not logical, and it's not the way things happen. She doesn't know what it's like to have a father, and while that might make other people sad, it doesn't make HER sad. She has nothing to compare to.

It's MUCH more likely that the neediness is coming from some other source... like maybe that his mom just moved in with someone she's known less than a year? And that she may have had several boyfriends before this that were in his life that now are not? Consider the obvious before blaming the absence of a non-entity.

Ok rant over

Now to respond to the original post. In my experience, once you get to the point of feeling "trapped", it's hard to come back from it. It means you've already disengaged to a significant extent. You could try re-connecting, date nights and going back to some of the things you thought you had in common at the start. But if you still feel that trapped feeling, you will likely need to end the relationship. I wish I knew a magic spell to erase that trapped feeling. I am going through something similar now, with work and family. I wish I knew an easy way to stop feeling that way.

[This message edited by annanew at 1:16 PM, April 19th (Friday)]

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