Hello, Awkwardtown, I’m back from my weekend in Carmi, IL and I’m baking this right now. Shall we blog?
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been with my partner for almost eight years now, and engaged for six of them. We’re talking about getting a house together, but it’s making me realize I’m not sure I want to live with him in ten years.
He has a sucky life. We moved to LA to see if his music would take off, and now that he’s getting older it’s getting more obvious it won’t. He doesn’t make much, he’s in debt, and has a job he hates.
But he’s started acting like an asshole. He’s always been a tease, but it comes with a bit of an edge now. He’s admitted he likes getting a rise out of me. It’s usually me doing the little gestures (getting a soda from the kitchen, finding a stray hat) and not him. I’m pretty sure I’m doing most of the housework, even though he disagrees. And he’s started complaining that I’m no good in bed, that I don’t take care of myself.
I’m trying to be supportive, but I’m getting frustrated. He says I’ve started treating him like a burden. That I rub the fact that I make more money in his face. I honestly don’t mean to. But I feel like all the sacrifices for the relationship, big and little, are coming from me with no sympathy in return.
I guess he’s right. If it does come down to just teasing, chores, and snack food, I’m being pretty selfish. And I don’t really get to count “making more money” as a sacrifice.
Am I just a self-centered bitch?
If by “selfish bitch” you mean “a woman on her way out of a relationship that’s no longer making her happy because the other person has totally stopped trying or giving a shit about anything,” then yes! Welcome.
Marriage licenses in California cost $56.00, and you could have knocked that out at any time in the last six or eight years if you really wanted to. I’m sure you had many reasons for not doing it before now, and a lot of them were “Well, we’re just waiting until x future thing falls into place, and then we totally will!” And then that thing happened or didn’t happen and you still didn’t get hitched. Don’t worry about those reasons now. “Grindingly unhappy together in a million small ways” is a good reason. “I love you but I don’t see us having a happy life together” is a good reason. Nobody has to be the bad guy here, or to have done something terrible enough to justify blowing this thing up. I could recommend therapy for either or both of you, but honestly, save yourself the cash you’d spend on couples’ counseling to sort out your true feelings. “I secretly dread the thought of buying a house with you and living in it forever” sums up your true feelings beautifully. Go with that.
“Honey, I want to try some different things in our sex life to make it work better for both of us” is a conversation many, many couples have and is totally survivable. Debt and the search for economic stability and fulfillment can be totally survivable if love and respect are there. But “Honey, you’re crummy in bed and I don’t like how you look anymore” and other ways to “get a rise” out of you demonstrate contempt. Contempt & derision in a romantic relationship are not survivable. I don’t see there being some kind of magic conversation that fixes a total loss of both attraction and respect. It’s not enough to love each other and have a shared history – you have to like each other and treat each other with basic affection and consideration!
If you do break up, the next six months or so are going to SUCK. You will second guess your decision a lot of times, and you’ll feel guilty sometimes, and he may try to cling onto you at the end like a drowning man.
It gets better. The weight of worrying if you’re doing the right thing, the guilt at maybe deserting someone when he’s in a bad place, and the 1,000 tiny ways he makes you feel unloved and shitty will all fall away as you kick yourself free. I predict that your future without him will be an adventure, and your biggest question a year from now will be “Why did I stay so long?”
Or you could just stay together. Don’t let me tell you what to do.