Today's story has a unique twist -- it was submitted simultaneously to me and to Useless Advice from Useless Men. We agreed that both sites would post a response today. After you have a look at the story below, you might want to wander over there and see how they dealt with this issue.
My boyfriend tells me he likes his time to himself on nights and weekends, meaning he doesn't want a girlfriend, yet he does. He loves a casual relationship. His initial excuses were that he lost track of time. Then he added why are Friday and Saturday nights more important than any other day of the week? I tried to talk to him about this and he said, "Oh, you're back to that ... again."
I told him I want to break up and he blew me off, saying I'm just crabby. I emailed him a strong letter saying the same thing and more. He stormed over and he argued me out of breaking up.
I got tired of this and posted a profile on a dating site. My profile is so diluted because I'm not really free to date, didn't get my permission to break up. He's aware of my profile, he's checking up on me.
I think this guy just hates to lose. He can't agree to a break up if it's my idea. Sooner or later he will find someone else and then he'll have no problem calling me up to break it off, because it will be his idea.
I'm really writing this to myself. I've just got to kick myself hard enough to stop being stupid.
Signed, Can't Seem to Kick Myself
If he doesn't want to see you, this guy is definitely not into you. You'll recognize him in Chapter 2 of He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. (Yes, Faithful Reader, you've seen that book before, but when the shoe fits...) He is also arrogant, self-centered and doing his best to dominate you. Do yourself a favor and walk away, today.
But you already know all that. Your letter makes that clear. The important questions to me are these: When you so clearly want to leave, why have you not done so? Why do you feel you need a guy's permission to break up with him?
A relationship only works when both people want it. If one of you wants out then it's over, even though the other person may not be happy about it. That's just how it works. Trust me, you don't need his permission. He can't force you to want him or to spend time with him. Lock the door, hang up when he calls, refuse all requests to get together -- he'll eventually get the hint. If he doesn't, then he falls into the stalker category. That's where police and restraining orders come in, though the vast majority of break ups never come to that.
What bothers me most is that you clearly feel powerless in this situation. Something in your past has trained you to react in this way. This is not about "being stupid." There are other powerful factors at work.
This sounds like a variant of battered woman's syndrome. You have not said anything about physical abuse but there is clearly emotional abuse involved. This syndrome is characterized by learned helplessness, low self-esteem and no psychological energy to leave, which is a good description of your situation.
Whether it happened with this guy or not, something in your past has taught you to feel powerless in relationships. I suspect some part of you believes you don't deserve any better. You know this guy is no great shakes but you're convinced the next one will be cut from the same cloth anyway, so why bother doing anything about it. More than that, you allow him to make decisions for you, even if that is not what you want. You just don't have the energy to do what is needed.
It turns out this guy is not your problem. Your real issue lies within yourself. You must find a way to heal your spirit, to convince yourself that you are fully worthy of a place in the world, that you are just as good as anyone else, that you truly deserve happiness and fulfillment in your life. I can't tell from your letter what inner demons from your past are haunting you, but you need to drag them out into the sunlight where you can reveal their lies so they will shrivel and die. This can be difficult to do alone. Professional advice from a therapist or psychologist can often be tremendously helpful.
Emotional power is a funny thing. If you believe you have none, then you don't. If you truly believe you have it, then you do. Once you find yourself a healthy dollop of self confidence, I doubt you'll ever have trouble with this type of situation again.
All the best,
Okay everyone, I'm on my way over to Useless Advice from Useless Men now to see what they have to say on this issue. Are you coming?